Hall County is going green with two new environmental initiatives.
The county received a federal grant to implement its Energy Efficiency Conservation Strategy, a plan for recycling and energy efficiency projects adopted by the Board of Commissioners Jan. 14.
Using grant funding, the Resource Recovery Division of Public Works has hired a part-time Recycling Coordinator to bring these ideas to fruition.
Brandie Kochan will be organizing recycling programs in the county government and Hall County Schools and educating people about recycling and sustainability.
This effort goes hand in hand with the county’s new environmental management system.
The system will bring partners from local governments, industries, schools and nonprofit agencies together to improve efficiency, save costs and promote sustainability.
Kochan, founder of an Atlanta company called Remix Recycling, will bring her expertise to Hall County.
Kochan said her first goal is to bring consistency to recycling programs in schools and government buildings and provide recycling bins for those who don’t have them.
“The launch to get all the schools a paper bin, a cardboard bin and then bins inside their classrooms is the week of America Recycles Day, which is Nov. 15,” Kochan said.
She said she hopes to get some competitions between the schools to increase recycling participation and offer prizes to the top schools.
She will also be working to maximize the efficiency of the Hall County Recycling Center.
“It makes sense to make use of what you have,” Kochan said.
Kochan plans to begin a program to teach people more about what can be recycled. She will start with a “Green Education Station,” a trailer parked at the recycling center. She said she hopes to eventually make it mobile and go from school to school to talk to students.
“There’s not enough education out there,” Kochan said. “I got recycled products to teach kids about consumer products.
What do you look for? How green are they? Are they made of recycled content? Can you recycle them? Where do I recycle them and what that whole life cycle looks like.”
She will eventually help the county work toward alternative energy, such as using methane gas from landfills.
“It’s very viable,” Kochan said. “That gas is trapped and it’s stored potential energy.”
Kochan has a lot on her plate in a short amount of time, but she hopes her efforts will make a lasting impact.
“The grant allots for a two-year salary, but then it’s my job to make it a sustainable, holistic plan so that possible revenues can actually create a new position so that ... it will forever be a part of Hall County and the cities.”