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More than paper, plastic at Hall’s recycling event

Some items can be reused

POSTED: November 16, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Sarah Guevara/The Times

Travis Clark, a Hall County corrections officer and equipment officer, throws empty milk jugs into a pile Wednesday inside the Hall County Recycling Center.

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  • Hear Cindy Reed of Keep Hall Beautiful talk about America Recycles Day.

It’s time to start sorting through all the junk you don’t use anymore. Saturday is America Recycles Day, and Hall County residents will have the opportunity to get rid of a wide variety of items.

"This is the biggest event we’ve had, the most ambitious," said Rick Foote, natural resources coordinator for Hall County.

The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Hall County Farmers Market, on Jesse Jewell Parkway near the I-985 exit.

Gainesville residents have curbside recycling service, and county residents can drop off recyclables at 13 compactor sites. But Saturday’s event will focus on items that are not accepted in traditional recycling programs.

Cindy Reed, director of Keep Hall Beautiful, said there are two ways to dispose of things responsibly without sending more waste to landfills. Some materials can be recycled, meaning that they are processed into something new.

But other items can be refurbished and reused for their original purpose.

For example, if you drop off an old bicycle at the farmers market Saturday, county public works employees will fix it up and donate it to a needy child at Christmas.

Reed said she’s coordinating with a number of community organizations to find reusable items.

"The Lions Club will collect eyeglasses, the Key Club will collect blankets (for needy families), the Habitat for Humanity store will collect furniture, and a sports camp will collect sports equipment," she said.

In addition, the Gainesville/Hall Senior Life Center is seeking canning jars for future canning projects and pieces of fabric for quilting.

But there are some things you definitely don’t want anyone else to use — your personal information, for example. If you have sensitive documents you need to dispose safely, bring them on Saturday.

"We’ll have a mobile shredding truck so you can see them being shredded in front of you," Reed said. "And of course, all of that paper will be recycled."

Some items will have to be handled by specialty contractors because they are difficult or dangerous to recycle. Household hazardous waste, such as paints and pesticides, will not be accepted at Saturday’s event.

However, Foote said they will accept mercury thermometers and thermostats. The toxic metal has been phased out of most consumer products, but many people still have old thermometers in their homes.

"We did a mercury event a few years ago and got a pretty good response," Foote said.

Almost any type of electronics also will be accepted, including computers and computer accessories, and audio/video equipment such as CD players and VCRs.

There is a $10 charge for bringing in a TV, however, because recycling a television costs the contractor far more than the components are worth. "Most of the weight of a TV is leaded glass, which they have to pay to have removed," Foote said.

Unlike most of the other items that can be brought to the event Saturday, electronics (except for TVs and cell phones) also can be taken during regular business hours to the Hall County Recycling Center at 1008 Chestnut St.

"We added electronics in 2005, and it’s been tremendously popular," Foote said.

But very little of what’s brought to the recycling center is profitable, especially not now.

"The current situation with the economy is affecting recycling," Foote said. "Market prices are down."

However, the program will continue to operate whether or not it turns a profit. Foote said the county gets a subsidy from the state’s Solid Waste Enterprise Fund, which receives money from landfill tipping fees.

Gloria Hardegree, executive director of the Georgia Recycling Coalition, said the economy also affects the volume of material being recycled.

"If you’re consuming less, then you’re recycling less, so the amount of tonnage may be down," she said.

But Hardegree doesn’t think people have lost interest in recycling.

"The green movement has motivated people to look for simple ways they can live more sustainably," she said. "People are starting to see the big picture. It’s about more than just sorting garbage. Recycling has an effect on water conservation and energy conservation."

Hardegree said there’s a greater awareness that it takes more fuel and water to make products out of virgin materials than from recyclables.

She said people want to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, but they tend to give up on recycling if it’s too inconvenient.

"We’ve found through research that people are more likely to recycle when there’s easy access," Hardegree said.

Reed said that’s why they’ve planned Saturday’s event to be as accessible as possible.

"The farmers market is easy to get to, people know where it is, and it’s under cover from the weather," she said. "We hope to have a good turnout. And we hope to grow it every year and add more items."



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