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Simpler recycling system expanding to all county sites
Public Works reduces amount of sorting
Kenny Free tosses beer bottles into the glass bin at the East Crescent Drive compactor site Friday. Free said he’s thrilled with a new recycling system that requires less sorting at all Hall County compactor sites. - photo by AARON HALE

What you can recycle at Hall compactor sites

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Office paper
File folders
Index cards
Colored copy paper
Plain and window envelopes
Phone books
Corrugated cardboard (three layers)
Paperboard (one layer — cereal, cracker, pasta, frozen food boxes)
Soda and beer boxes
Pizza boxes (no pizza, please)

Aluminum beverage cans and foils
Steel or tin food cans and spray cans
Plastics No. 1-7 (remove lid and empty container)

All colors of glass food and beverage bottles and jars

Not accepted
Plastic bags
Polystyrene foam
Plastic children’s toys
Lawn chairs
Pool liners or shower curtains
Medical waste

After tossing a few beer bottles Friday into one recycling bin, Hall County resident Kenny Free grabbed a bucketful of plastic bottles of various sizes and a few aluminum cans and dumped it into a recycling bin at the East Crescent Drive Compactor site.

For Free, recycling his home trash has never been so easy.

In an effort to make recycling more convenient for Hall County residents, Hall County Public Works has completed an overhaul at all its compactor sites to reduce the amount of sorting.

“We hope this added convenience will encourage more Hall County residents to use our compactor sites for recycling,” said Rick Foote, natural resources coordinator.

The new modified stream recycling asks residents to sort their recyclables into three categories: paper and cardboard, metal and plastic and grass.

Before that, residents not only had to sort by materials (paper, plastic, cardboard, aluminum) but in some cases had to sort materials by type of plastic and color (brown glass in one container, green in another, etc.).

The changes may sound small, but they’re not insignificant for regular recyclers.

“It’s about three times more convenient,” said Gainesville resident Larry Wright. Like Free, Wright also uses the East Crescent Drive compactor.

That site got its new bins with the simpler sorting system just weeks ago.

In November, the Public Works Department began a pilot program to offer a simpler sorting system at its Flowery Branch and Sardis compactor sites. Although county officials didn’t track a noticeable increase in recycling, it did prove popular with residents.

“It’s a convenience to our citizens,” said Cary Lawler, the county’s solid waste manager. “There has been a real positive response.”

The department began expanding the program countywide in April with approval from the Hall County Board of Commissioners. Last week, all compactors had the new modified bins on-site.

But while residents and county officials are hailing the convenience of the new system, it’s unclear whether it will increase recycling efforts, especially from those who don’t already make the effort.

While Wright was disposing plastic bottles in a recycling bin Friday afternoon, another woman drove up to the compactor site and parked next to him. Carrying a plastic milk carton in one hand and trash bag clanging with the sound of glass-on-glass in the other, she bypassed the recycling bin entirely and tossed it all in the trash compactor.

For those who don’t already recycle, it seems, it’s even easier not to separate recyclables at all.

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