Gainesville is currently sending its recycling to Athens, but the City Council will vote Tuesday on an agreement with Hall County that can help the city avoid having to raise the rates it charges residents.
The change would come with one adjustment for residents, though — starting Aug. 1, they would no longer be able to put glass in their recycling bins. However, they can bring their glass to any of the county’s 12 compactor sites to be recycled.
If the agreement is approved, an education campaign would start July 1 to make residents aware of the change.
The Hall County Recycling Center on Chestnut Street in Gainesville is not equipped to take in recycling that has glass mixed in. The center has been unable to process the city’s recycling in the past because it contained glass.
Hall County can sell recycled materials to vendors that process them to create new products. But the county also encourages recycling to get the most out of its landfill on Oakbrook Drive, which is estimated to have a 25-year lifespan.
“If all of this material was going to the landfill instead of being sold as a product recyclable, we would be filling up our landfill a lot faster,” Ken Rearden, the county’s public works director, told The Times in April.
Under the agreement, Hall County would pay Gainesville half the market rate for cardboard the city brings in. There would be no payment for single-stream recycling, which includes paper, plastics and metals.
City Manager Bryan Lackey said keeping the recyclables closer to home can help the city cut down on costs.
“We were paying a good bit of money to take the glass, plus we had to transport it to Athens,” Lackey said. “… What it allows us to do is not have to talk about a rate increase.”
According to city spokeswoman Nikki Perry, Gainesville is paying $100 per ton for single-stream recycling with glass, plus the labor and gas required to bring the materials to Athens. Hall County will take single-stream recycling for free and charges $33 per ton for trash, which would include glass.
The Hall County Board of Commissioners will also have to approve the agreement after Gainesville signs on.