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What Hall County plans to do with trash from growing population
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Garbage is unloaded Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, at the Hall County Landfill. Hall County will be adding cells to its landfill soon and is looking at a new materials recovery facility. - photo by Scott Rogers

Hall County is expanding its landfill and considering a new materials recovery facility in anticipation of growth.

Ken Rearden, the county’s public works director, said the Hall County Landfill on Oakbrook Drive in Gainesville should last another 25 to 30 years before reaching capacity. Slightly less than half of the 97-acre tract has been used so far, he said.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners voted Thursday, Aug. 9, to approve an approximately $5 million contract with T&K Construction of Vinemont, Alabama, to add a new cell to the landfill. The land was already zoned for that purpose. Construction will likely begin by Sept. 1, Rearden said.

Johnnie Vickers, the county’s solid waste director, said construction on the new cell, which will be approximately 13 acres, will take about a year. Vickers said without it, the landfill would be at capacity in about 14 months.

The Hall County Landfill is the county’s only landfill. The county operates 12 compactor sites and transports the waste from those sites to the landfill, where about 339 tons of waste is disposed daily, according to the county website.

Hall runs a materials recovery facility at the recycling center on Chestnut Street in Gainesville. There, recyclables are hand-sorted and then sold so companies can make products like paper.

The county is now considering building a new, larger materials recovery facility as part of its strategic plan, which addresses an expected population increase to 370,000 by 2040. The county’s population as of July 2017, the most recent census numbers available, was 199,335.

“What we’re looking at is to build a bigger, more regional automated facility where machines will sort most of this material and be able to divert a lot of the waste from the landfill into recycling,” Rearden said.

According to the strategic plan, the county wants to conduct a study to see the possible costs and benefits of a new facility. Hall also wants to hire an engineer to evaluate the solid waste program.

Vickers said as the county grows, its residents will continue to produce trash, and officials want to plan ahead.

“Trash never stops, rain or shine, seven days a week, so we have to find somewhere to put it,” Vickers said.