I am happy to announce that the program is expanding once again. The recycling centers are now accepting steel food cans and all plastic with numbers 1 through 7, which can be mixed. The continued expansion of the recycling program is clear evidence that it enjoys broad support from the community as we work together to preserve the environment and extend the life of the county landfill.
Recycling is voluntary in Bradley County because the cost of collection, transportation and the sorting involved with curbside recycling far exceeds the value of the materials recovered. Yet, our voluntary efforts are worthwhile and show good gains each year.
Recycling makes sense on a number of levels. It saves energy and conserves natural resources such as timber, water and minerals. The recycling industry has created 1.1 million U.S. jobs and for every ton of paper we recycle, 17 trees are saved.
I am asking each citizen to make a commitment to recycling. We provide three conveniently located drop-off centers. The landfill center is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Peerless Road Center is located behind the Farmer’s Market and is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. The Urbane Road Center at the recreation complex is open Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Recycled computers and electronics are only accepted at the Peerless Road Drop-Off Center. Monitors and televisions are not accepted.
As the county recycling program continues to expand, local governments across the nation continue to search for creative ways to reduce and better manage municipal solid waste, which is more commonly known as trash or garbage.
The reason is clear. According to EPA, we generate more than 250 million tons of trash in the U.S. each year while recycling just 82 million tons, or about 32.5 percent. Items such as paper, plastics, metals and glass comprise more than 50 percent of the national waste stream. These numbers show there is great opportunity for growth in recycling programs across the nation.
According to Santek Environmental, the operator of our landfill, Bradley County residents and industry, along with eight other communities who contract to use the county landfill, disposed of 152,902 tons of garbage in 2010. This represents a slight decrease over 2009 from 160,870 tons.
This indicates that the county is doing a good job of keeping a lid on the trash going to the landfill. However, this does not represent the total amount of garbage generated in Bradley County. The city of Cleveland’s commercial and residential waste goes to a landfill in Athens through a contract with Waste Connections of Tennessee.
With that said, there is an argument to be made for more attention to improving recycling opportunities for business, industry and citizens in our community. It requires a certain amount of work. But for the environmentally conscious, it’s an effort that brings tangible results. We are helping to extend the life of the landfill, creating jobs and conserving energy. That’s good for you, the taxpayer, and it’s good for the environment.