With Bryan County continuing to grow, recycling is becoming an increasingly important aspect of waste management for the community.
According to the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), Georgia is beginning to tap into additional resources to help promote a statewide ethic of recycling.
Steve Walden, Assistant General Manager of Republic Waste, is also looking for ways to help the community recycle. "We would love to do it," Walden said of expanding the county’s recycling processes.
"We’ve tried it, and we do it right now at the Spur," said Walden, referring to the Spur 144 landfill in Richmond Hill. Currently, the Spur has bins for recycling plastic, cardboard, metal, and newspaper.
Republic Waste had previously attempted to set up a recycling area behind the library in Richmond Hill "but it became a farce," Walden said, noting that people were throwing anything and everything away in it.
Jeff Sasser, a salesperson for Lawson Products, has lived in Richmond Hill for 20 years. With the city’s future of continuing growth, Sasser is concerned about the consequential increase in trash.
"There’s a lot of stuff that can be recycled—if given the opportunity," he said.
"People here in town have to drive clear down [Hwy. 144] to the dump. And yeah, some people will. But my guess is a lot more won’t. And so things are going into the landfills, and it’s not like it’s going to degenerate. Garbage will, but plastics will not."
Sasser’s first suggestion: "I just think if they had a couple of drop off points around town, making it somewhat convenient," recycling would have the potential to be more successful.
Sasser feels that recycling in the community is going to be "a process of education." He stated, "There’s a big mix of people in this area, and this is going to be like a lot of things, it’s an educational process."
Sasser’s second suggestion: start within the schools. By educating the community’s children about the importance of recycling, he thinks parents will start getting more involved; with the movement growing from there. Sasser pointed out a recycling area at the schools would be a convenient drop off place.
"You need some campaign stuff going on," Sasser continued. "You have to really blow your horn. Let people know it’s here; educate them because they haven’t been used to doing this."
Right now, Sasser feels the situation is similar to "sweeping the dirt under the carpet—out of sight out of mind."
"It’s just amazed me that we just don’t seem to care about it, I guess—I don’t know—maybe that’s not really fair," he said. But the "sweep it under the carpet" concept "isn’t going to get the community anywhere...somebody needs to do something."
Richmond Hill is estimated to double in the next ten years.
"Are we just going to continue impacting landfills even more?" Sasser wanted to know. "We can do better—almost anything is going to be better than what’s going on now. People will [recycle] if you make it more available. So, make it available."
That’s just what Republic Waste is trying to do.
Walden said he definitely wants to get an immediate handle on sorting newspaper and magazine recyclables. "These two take in the most recycling," he said. Originally, Republic Waste offered bins for home use recycling of newspaper, "but no one was using them," said Walden.
Republic Waste is in the works of making plans with Fort Stewart’s Bill Hodges to expand recycling options. "We’ve been talking about doing this for months, and Fort Stewart definitely wants to go in on it."
Republic Waste’s upcoming project, in conjunction with Fort Stewart, is a cardboard compactor. Walden estimates 192 yards per week of cardboard, if not more, are currently getting thrown away. "We have a compactor already ready to go that we’re going to put down at the Spur," said Walden.
While Walden was unsure as to exactly when they are going to set up a meeting with Hodges, once the plans are finalized, "they’re going to install the concrete pad for the compactor to sit on, and get a power source to have it run on."
"Cosmetically, it looks better," said Walden of the compactor’s benefits. "Plus, it makes our job easier, helps keep cardboard under control, and keeps it from filling up the land fills."
In other plans, the county currently has a grant opportunity. DCA Commissioner Mike Beatty issued a memorandum on July 3 regarding a Waste Reduction and Recycling Program for 2007.
The Away-From-Home Grant will be funded through the Solid Waste Trust Fund and has been implemented in order to "increase recycling awareness and recycling opportunities throughout the state."
Jan Bass, of Richmond Hill’s Community Development, said they will definitely be applying for the grant.
Away-From-Home encourages "local governments to provide recycling services at special events in their communities."
The grant will supply recycling kits including "portable, reusable special event recycling containers, a custom designed carrier to transport the containers and bags, as well as guidance materials for special event planners," the memorandum stated.
The entire kit will be provided to special events in an enclosed trailer. The recycling containers are designed to "minimize contamination and encourage event attendees to recycle."
While resources permit, several rounds of the grants will be awarded.