The Houston Chapter of the Independent Pool & Spa Service Association has launched an ambitious program designed to reduce waste and raise revenue.
The organization is partnering with Houston-based recycling network Rampak Group Inc. to offer convenient drop-off dumpsters, or “pans,” for buckets throughout the city.
“We’re looking at truly curtailing the number of buckets that are going back to the landfills,” Chapter President Jim Jacobsmeyer said. “We’re working in very large numbers, in 12,000-pound increments.”
Rampak will reward IPSSA’s recycling efforts with rebate checks. Funds raised this way will be donated to the Aquatic Professionals Education Council, a pool and spa industry advocacy group, as well as to charity organizations such as the Special Olympics.
“We hope to have six pans set in Houston by the end of the year,” Jacobsmeyer said. “San Antonio is following [Houston’s] lead very closely; they hope to have two to three pans set there by the end of the year. And we may eventually have a lot more than that.”
Jacobsmeyer ultimately wants to see the program go nationwide — and even beyond pool and spa professionals.
“This is not only for IPSSA,” he said. “Once it’s rolling, I hope everybody gets in on this, not just the pool industry. I go into people’s homes to service pools and in the garage, I see buckets stacked to the ceiling. If we can tap the whole residential market in Texas, this could be tremendous.”
Until that time comes, IPSSA and Rampak are laying as much groundwork as possible. By arranging to set up pans at more distributor locations and tracking the amount of plastic donated at each one, the groups aim to be prepared when the program expands its scope.
“I’m hoping that getting the distributors on board will help,” said Michelle Leone-Williams, a sales supervisor at Rampak. “Right now, we’re watching to see how many [buckets] we get, and we’re just giving everybody the knowledge about what they need to do. Once we get it going and [people in the industry] understand it, I think they’ll start doing it.”
To further publicize the program, Jacobs-meyer has been working with Rampak officials to assemble an informational campaign, scheduled to launch this fall. The push will first target IPSSA members, then focus on pool owners throughout the Houston area.
“This is going to be a residential push,” Jacobsmeyer said. “We’re going to go after everybody’s buckets across the city: Put them out at the curbside Saturday morning, and somebody will pick up your buckets and recycle them.”
For Leone-Williams, there’s no doubt this is shaping up to be a win-win situation: “We want to keep the plastic out of the landfills,” she said, “and also turn the material into something better.”