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Streamlined recycling pays off for Hall County

Solid waste division made more than $500,000

POSTED: July 18, 2013 2:02 a.m.

The way the recycling center on Sardis Road collects paper and plastics was streamlined a year ago - locals no longer have to sort the different types of paper and plastics, just dump plastic into the big green container and paper into the blue ones.

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Hall County is losing less money than it was a year ago, thanks to its streamlined recycling process.

The county’s decision to change how recycling was done over the past year has proven successful. More waste is being recycled and more money is being brought in, officials said.

The new system doesn’t require as much separating of material by type and color at the 12 compactor sites, said Rick Foote, natural resources director. There are currently three categories: paper and cardboard, metal and plastic, and glass.

Foote said the change has taken away two of the stumbling blocks that people use as excuses not to recycle.

“We wanted to increase our volume,” Foote said. “Why do people not recycle? They say ‘I don’t have the time, it’s not convenient, I don’t know how to recycle.’ Those are the common problems.”

But now it’s more convenient. Hall County went from collecting about 3,500 tons in fiscal year 2012 to more than 5,000 tons in fiscal year 2013.

The intake of glass and plastic has increased more than 100 tons, and steel intake rose more than 30 tons over the past year. Aluminum has stayed relatively flat.

The county has partnered with Pratt Industries to bale cardboard and sell it back. Recycled material goes to make carpet, tissues and wall insulation, Foote said.

Just the recycling division of solid waste reduced its loss from about $308,000 in FY2012 to about $214,000 in FY2013.

Hall County doesn’t track the number of people using the compactor sites. County spokeswoman Katie Crumley said the Sardis Road site and the Blackshear Place one on Atlanta Highway are the most used.

Bobby Purdum, resource recovery superintendent, said the solid waste division made $518,000 a year. That includes the landfill, recycling and solid waste. The solid waste assessment fee was raised from $50 to $75, and that gets distributed to all three departments.

The recycling center on Chestnut Street in Gainesville takes more stuff, including rechargeable car batteries and electronics, than the compactor sites.

About 20-30 tons a month goes to the landfill. Inmate labor helps separate the material and saves money on wages.

The county is looking for different markets to sell products. The less that goes to the landfill makes it last longer. No property owners want a landfill near their property.

“The more we can capture, the less goes to the landfill,” Purdum said.

The recycling center is really a manufacturing facility, he said, and the product makes money for the county. The county is asking for plastics and looking for a market to sell the firmer ones.

Foote said many jobs depend on recycling, and it’s really more a part of the overall economy than just a “green” initiative. Markets have an impact on the global economy, he said.

“We’re part of the economy just like everything else,” Foote said. “Recycling is post and parcel of the economy, it’s not separate from the economy.”


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