Recycling rollout

Recycling is very important to Rebekka Nielson.

It’s so important to her, she wanted to start her senior project - curbside recycling with Emadco Disposal Services in Oakhurst - before she even finished junior year.

“We’re really big on recycling in my family and where I used to live,” said Nielson, whose family moved to Ahwahnee from Humboldt County in December 2014. “We came here and there wasn’t really a recycling program. So I knew that working with Emadco to launch theirs was, without a doubt, something I wanted to be part of.”

Nielson has been much more than a part, Emadco recycling manager Ashley Smith said. In a way, she’s the face of recycling in the Mountain Area, with more than 100 hours, and counting, devoted to her project.

Until she leaves to study business administration at Grand Canyon University, Nielson has been everywhere, spreading the importance of recycling by speaking at schools and public events, participating in Emadco booths, even designing a flier to instruct customers on what can or can’t be recycled.

“I’ll tell anyone who will listen to me how much I love my project,” Nielson said. “I’ve really enjoyed every second of it and I’ve tried to be interactive and really get out there with the message that recycling is so, so important. I want everyone to know about it.”

Smith, Nielson’s effective partner in the project, said without her, the August “rollout” of all the bright blue bins - with lettering Nielson helped choose - would have been rocky, at best.

“It would have been a lot more work for us without her, that’s for sure,” Smith said. “We absolutely love the idea of having a senior student out there to relate to the public ... she’s helped us so much. She’s portrayed everything about recycling to kids and adults in a lot more positive way than any of us could have tried to do.”

Though it was a somewhat rough start to recycling services Oct. 1, Smith said the program has proved highly successful.

Contamination rates are around 16% compared to an average 30% in the Valley, Smith said, with the most up-to-date, smell-sealed bins seen among some 6,000 Mountain Area homes. He added Emadco plans to increase its recycling schedule next year from two days to two weeks each month.

Nielson said she wasn’t sure whether she’d choose a recycling-based job in the future, but for now, she’s enjoyed her last year as a Badger.

“I was here when there weren’t recycling bins, then I was here when they were swamped with bins and questions, then when they redid it after first launch,” Nielson said. “It’s been quite a journey to get here, and it’s been awesome and a lot of fun.”

And, when asked if Emadco would hire her today, Smith had a quick response.

“Absolutely,” Smith said.

Details: Emadco Disposal Services provides waste collection to around 6,000 homes in the Mountain Area, through 64-gallon trash and 96-gallon recycling bins. Visit, or call (559) 683-4680 for pricing and other information.