Hall County will now be taking in Lumpkin County’s recycling as the beginning of what officials hope could be a regional recycling program.
The agreement with Lumpkin, approved by the Hall County Board of Commissioners on April 10, went into effect April 15. Lumpkin will bring its recyclables, except for glass, to the Hall recycling center. Hall will pay Lumpkin half the market rate for its cardboard and will not pay for plastics, metal or paper. Cardboard is currently selling for about $110 a ton, said Ken Rearden, the county’s public works director.
The county can profit from selling the materials.
Recycled materials are sold to vendors that process them and create new products. For example, Pratt Industries, a Conyers-based company, picks up paper at the county’s compactor sites and brings it to the recycling center, then buys the baled paper so it can be made into new paper products.
Profits from selling recyclables are used to operate the recycling center, landfill and the 12 compactor sites. Tipping and tonnage fees paid by people disposing of waste at the landfill, as well as the $75 annual solid waste assessment fee billed to county residents, are also used to fund these facilities.
Recycling isn’t just eco-friendly. The county also encourages it to prolong the life of the Hall County Landfill on Oakbrook Drive.
“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,” Rearden said.
The landfill is estimated to have a 25-year lifespan, he said.
A 13-acre addition to the landfill is set to be ready in August or September and will help accommodate the increased trash that comes with a growing population. Johnnie Vickers, the county’s solid waste director, told The Times in August that without the addition, the landfill would have been at capacity in about 14 months.
One roadblock to the recycling plan is glass.
Currently, the Hall County Recycling Center on Chestnut Street in Gainesville is not equipped to take in recycling that has glass mixed in. Rearden said new machinery could fix that and allow Hall to work with more municipalities.
For example, the center cannot take Gainesville’s recycling because it is mixed with glass, and the company Red Oak Sanitation, which Flowery Branch uses, cannot bring its recycling there either. But Oakwood is able to bring its materials to the center.
The county is still considering whether investing in the new machinery would be a good financial decision, Rearden said, but the county would like to see more local recyclables coming in.
“We would like to provide that service for our residents and have that revenue coming in to the county instead of going outside the county,” Rearden said.