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College plans recycling program in storm's wake

Published: Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013 11:57 a.m. CDT

EAST PEORIA (AP) — A central Illinois college discouraged by tons of debris in the tornado-damaged city of Washington is launching a program meant to recycle much of that waste otherwise bound for landfills.

Illinois Central College in East Peoria next month will begin offering a certification program called Deconstruction and Building Materials Salvage and Reuse. The effort is at least partly funding by a $500,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Labor, the (Peoria) Journal Star reported (http://bit.ly/1fvMxHc ).

Anne Nicklin, an instructor at the college, said central Illinois doesn't have the infrastructure or certified laborers needed to handle the recycling of material from the Nov. 17 tornado in Washington, where more than 1,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. The twister was one of two dozen that pelted Illinois, killing seven people.

"It's atrocious what's happening in Washington," Nicklin said. "Driving through and seeing the debris — so much materials are there. We need to ensure — God forbid it happens again — that these materials don't need to go to the landfill."

Nicklin said 40 to 60 percent of the national waste stream comes from construction and demolition debris, most of which can be recycled.

The college's certification program is open to companies wanting to expand their employees' diversity and to current students seeking a construction, architecture or demolition career. Registration for the spring semester is open on college's website.

"There's a high potential for this to be successful with area contractors," said Diana Fuller, the program's regional coordinator. "It's a fairly new concept, but a lot of employers are very interested in the program."

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