Profiting from old political signs - East Valley Tribune: News

Profiting from old political signs

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Posted: Wednesday, October 8, 2008 5:33 pm | Updated: 8:37 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Nov. 4 may be Election Day, but Nov. 10-15 are reserved for Collection Days.

That's the designated time one Tempe company hopes candidates and others will collect and deliver all those campaign signs that are now dotting the streets of the East Valley. Plastics General hopes to earn a profit by recycling the signs and, while so doing, keep the area landfills less congested.

"We estimate that all the political signs in Arizona combined weigh more than 150,000 pounds," said Bill Wiess, a spokesman for Plastic General, 455 W. Diamond Drive.

"That's a lot of space if they were dumped in a landfill."

Instead, Wiess is trying to spread the word to politicians, campaign groups and candidates - both winners and losers - that his company will accept the signs between Nov. 10-15 and recycle them.

He also is attempting to reach owners of so-called "bandit signs" - signs that, for example, promote sales or nonpolitical issues - so they can drop them off for recycling as well.

Plastic General began its campaign sign recycling campaign two elections ago when it started accepting the corrugated plastic signs made of polypropylene, a material that is easily ground into small pellets but, if placed untreated, can take between 20 to 30 years to dissolve in a landfill.

Wiess said tape, wire, wooden stakes and other material should be removed before the signs are recycled. Once the signs are ground, the shreds are loaded into a box and the box is sold to various companies throughout the United States.

"The pellets are used to manufacture all kinds of widgets, or small mechanical devices," Wiess said. "Everything from knobs to heels for shoes."

Wiess, who knows first-hand about political campaign signs after having run for several state, county and local school boards, said most winner's signs are quickly removed after Election Day while the losers' signs are not.

"The people associated with the winners want to brag about their victories so they remove and show off their candidates' signs right away," said Wiess. "The losers, especially the candidates, go back to their normal life and try to catch up with all those things that had to ignore during their campaign. So, they put off removing their signs."

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