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Under the tree to the trash pile: Compactor sites processing Christmas waste
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GAINESVILLE — Each year, Christmas proves to be the trashiest of all the holidays.

People of Hall County, no longer running to the stores for last minute gifts, have started flocking to the local trash compactor sites to get rid of unwanted Christmas gift boxes and wrapping paper.

The post-Christmas period is the busiest time of the year for the Hall County recycling center, said Hall County’s Natural Resource Coordinator Rick Foote.

"(Christmas) is leaps and bounds ahead of any other time period," Foote said. "Ask anybody in the waste industry nationwide."

A lot of Christmas packages come in corrugated cardboard boxes.

"Most anything comes in a cardboard box, whether it’s delivered as pork and beans to a grocery store or an X-Box to a Best Buy," Foote said.

The county sells significantly more cardboard to recycling centers in the month of January — the month following Christmas— than it does any other month of the year, according to Foote’s recycling reports from 2004 through 2007.

Although he does not yet have any hard numbers on how much extra waste was produced by this year’s Christmas packages.

Foote said he has observed an increase in corrugated cardboard coming in from the county’s 13 trash compactor and recycling centers.

"Business is picking up, as they say," Foote said. "We’ve got all three of our pickup trucks servicing the (trash compactor) sites as well as multiple dump body trucks from road maintenance departments servicing the sites for corrugated cardboard."

Foote, who started working for the county in 1991, said the amount of trash that comes into the trash compactor sites indicates the health of the area’s economy. A blooming economy equals a bigger pile of trash.

"Trash can be an economic barometer," Foote said.

In a good economic year, it takes the Hall County recycling center about two weeks to recover from the extra waste the Christmas season produces, Foote said.

"If we get back to normal in a week’s time, the economy is not so good," Foote said.