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Porter Empty Return celebrates 5 years in River Region

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Sat, Aug 11th 2018 07:00 am
2018 recipients of the Porter Empty Return Eco-Echo Award are Wilson High School graduate Chris Watson, left, and Lewiston-Porter grad Michael Allender, far right. They received their $500 scholarships from PERC representatives Sam Irish and Jenna Chesnut.
2018 recipients of the Porter Empty Return Eco-Echo Award are Wilson High School graduate Chris Watson, left, and Lewiston-Porter grad Michael Allender, far right. They received their $500 scholarships from PERC representatives Sam Irish and Jenna Chesnut.
Bottle, can recycler addresses a need, serves the community
This summer, Ransomville's Porter Empty Return is celebrating five years of serving communities from Lewiston to Olcott, and all areas around and between.
Located at 3628 Ransomville Road in Ransomville, Porter Empty is conveniently found to the right of Rite Aid and left of KeyBank in the hamlet.
"We have a number of regulars who drop off, shop Rite Aid, Stevenson's Hardware, or walk over to the post office. All within a walk of less than a minute," said Doug Adamson, owner/operator of Porter Empty Return.
A licensed New York state redemption center, his primary focus is to service individuals and households.
"Our job is to collect and sort each returned container into specific bags, which are then picked up by Tomra (a sorting recycler), who then bills each distributor for the deposits. The job is not easy. There are over 100 beer soda and water distributors," Adamson said. "Deciding who gets billed for a specific can or bottle can be at times vexing."
Ninety percent of Porter Empty Return's business comes from households; the other 10 percent is from events, organizations and fundraising.
"Along the way, we have helped countless numbers of individuals, businesses and organizations redeem millions of cans and bottles. We have also helped recycle non-deposit cans and plastics, as well as electronics that might otherwise end up in landfills," Adamson said.
He noted many see recycling as a convenience and not even realize there are also incentives to recycle. Take those recycling bins one sees at such public functions as fairs, festivals and the like.
"Modern Recycling bins are not redemption bins," Adamson said. "This mistake is more common than you might think. Although the can or bottle will be recycled, the 5-cent deposit is lost. Eighty percent of unclaimed deposits are kept by New York state, while the remaining 20 percent is kept by the distributor. "(That) unclaimed 5 cents collectively becomes millions."
Of his Porter Empty Return service, Adamson said the sky's the limit as to how many empties is too many. "We have no limit on the size of accepted returns. You can bring back one or 10,000. We welcome all," he said.
And returns don't necessarily have to be spotless. "We get them from picnics, parties, festivals; you name it, we've seen it all," Adamson said.
To better service large functions, Porter Empty Return has its own specially designed event containers. "Currently, they are being used in schools, weddings and graduations, just to name a few. They are found exclusively at our return center and are free of charge and reusable," Adamson said. "We will even personalize them for your special event. Large events should call ahead to reserve containers; they are also free of charge."
He said Porter Empty Return has monthly coupons available, as well as a bag exchange program.
Adamson said he currently handles accounts for over 80 groups.
"All receive more than the normal 5 cents. Anyone can request a group account with us. Checks are cut on request," he said.
One example is the Mount St. Mary's Hospital Care and Share program. The collection effort, run by hospital staffers, is in its third year and has raised thousands for the local food pantry.
Another is Deposits for Food, run by Lewiston resident Angelo Sarkees. It has raised close to $30,000 over the past five years, all of which benefits the area's food pantries.
Porter Empty Return employs a staff of seven and brings in extra high school and college students to fill busy schedules.
"We are employers," Adamson said. "Machines do not get a paycheck and they do not spend money throughout the local economy."
Porter Empty Return recently announced presentation of its third Eco-Echo Award scholarships. Recipients included graduates Michael Allender from Lewiston-Porter and Chris Watson from Wilson. Both received $500.
"The continued support of the community makes this possible, and we hope to continue this into the future as our way of giving thanks," Adamson said.
Above all, Adamson said he sees recycling as a needed service, and one that also benefits the community.
"Returning empties is a great way to teach your children the value of how nickels become dollars, which can become bikes or iPads," he said. "One of our customers collected over the course of a year the $2,500 needed for the down payment on a new car."
Adamson said people can also help others.
"They can donate their returns to help various groups, such as the Boy Scouts, churches, food pantries; the list goes on and on," he said.
Inviting area residents to check out the ease and convenience Porter Empty Return offers, Adamson commented, "Although I love shopping at our local grocery stores, standing and waiting in line to put a can in one at a time only to have every fifth one rejected is not fun. We accept all New York deposits, whether they're from the Adirondacks, the Bronx, or wherever in New York. We can take bags that would take 20 minutes to put in a machine and process in just a couple minutes."
Porter Empty Return is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Monday. Stop by or call 716-791-1113.
Editor-in-Chief Terry Duffy contributed to this report

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