HEADS UP RECYCLERS

County program puts recycling on the map

Big green recycle containers are placed for public access at the transfer station (landfill) on Armstrong Loop Road near Hayden, at the Blount County Water Authority on Ala 79 at Cleveland, and at Straight Mountain Volunteer Fire Department on county road 29.

Big green recycle containers are placed for public access at the transfer station (landfill) on Armstrong Loop Road near Hayden, at the Blount County Water Authority on Ala 79 at Cleveland, and at Straight Mountain Volunteer Fire Department on county road 29.

When county administrator Ralph Mitchell renegotiated the county solid waste contract with vendors in April, he had three major related objectives he wanted to accomplish as part of the process:

Provide weekly garbage pickup services on site to the county’s 22 volunteer fire departments, at no cost. He got it.

Arrange for a truck and attendant to work for 10 hours a month at no cost to the county to clean up illegal dumps on county roads. He got it.

Set up a county waste recycling program at locations around the county. He got that, too: three free recycling containers (in addition to one existing location at Hayden School) along with six free pickups at each location per month.

Other goodies were involved in the new contract as well (such as holding rates at current levels), but those three were the more notable items.

“The recycling program was really in response to popular demand. For some time I’d been getting several calls a month, half or more of them from the Oneonta area, from people wanting to know where they could participate in recycling. So, I made that a kind of priority to set up something if it could be done economically,” Mitchell said. Basics of recycling

Here are the basics of the program. It’s for certain categories of materials where an infrastructure to process them has already been established. Those materials include tin (such as canned goods containers), aluminum (such as soft drink cans), paper (like newsprint, notebook paper), cardboard, and plastics.

Other types of waste including household garbage, cooking oil, construction waste, old furniture, etc. should not be placed in or outside recycle bins. That will create a problem for the program if they are dumped at the recycling locations.

“For this to be successful, we need for people to be diligent in separating materials into the proper recycle categories and not use the recycling bins for household garbage and other non-recyclable materials,” Mitchell said. “It would help if cans were rinsed out to be reasonably clean – not washed out, just rinsed to remove all of whatever was in them,” he said.

Mitchell said cooking oil had been left at one location, and could not be used as part of the county program. He noted that Oneonta Utilities has a program for collecting cooking oil that people can recycle by bringing to the utility’s Oneonta location.

The recycling locations in the county are as follows:

west Blount – located at the county transfer station, also known as the old county landfill, located off Old Armstrong Loop road in the Hayden area. Hours: closed Sunday and Monday; open 7:30 a.m. – 3:15 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

central Blount – located at intersection of Ala 79 and 160 at Cleveland on property owned by Blount County Water Authority (across from Tonka Supply). Available to public 24/7.

east Blount – located at Straight Mountain Volunteer Fire Station on county 29. Available to public 24/7.

A fourth location at Hayden School is used as a teaching aid for conservation education, and the public is asked not to use the container there.

“This program is obviously still in its infancy,” said Mitchell. “We’ll monitor usage and if we need another location or two, we can add it. Right now this is being done at no cost to the county. At some point, if the program expands enough, cost will become a factor we’ll have to consider.”

In response to a question about a recycling location in the county’s most populous area, Mitchell said Oneonta has so far elected not to participate.

“I was disappointed Oneonta chose not to participate initially, and I hope they’ll reconsider. We can still bring them on board if they decide they want to participate,” Mitchell said.