Chatham Co. Recycling experiencing high volumes as they look for funding

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV)- Chatham County Recycling is looking for grant funding to help expand their operation.

Employees who run the facility said during their normal hours of operation, they see close to 400 visitors a day.

“Since our numbers have grown cardboard is one of the number one products,” said David Nash, Facility Manager for Chatham County Recycling. “It’s also the most difficult to manage because of its bulkiness and the difficulty of processing it.”

Nash has submitted a grant proposal for a second cardboard compacter to accommodate the volume. Anne Robinson works alongside Nash as the facility’s Outreach Coordinator, she’s also looking for federal dollars so citizens can start recycling car tires.

“We’re actually in the middle of pursuing a grant with the Environmental Protection Division or EPD,” said Robinson.

Although they’re seeing more people use their services the waste issue still remains a statewide problem. In Georgia, nearly 2 million tons of household garbage ends up in landfills.

“The issue becomes when consumers feel so guilty about consuming those things and not having anywhere to recycle them or throw them away,” said Robinson. “They start doing what I call wish cycling.”

Wish cycling is when people toss plastics in the recycling bin that can’t be broken down and re-used. Usually, those items are labeled with the numbers one through seven.

“What that is called is the resin number and that stands for the chemical components from which that plastic was made,” said Robinson. “Many of the times there are not markets for plastics 3 through 7.”

In the past, these items were shipped off to China. Now, communities all over the country are on the hunt for a new destination. Luckily, Georgia is the second-largest manufacturer of recycled goods in the country.

“We’ve got companies like Shaw and Mohawk that make carpets out of plastic bottles,” said Robinson. “We have Novelis, we have strategic materials, and a lot of those companies are based in Atlanta.”

It is clear that Georgia is better off than most in terms of market options, but the waste problem can’t be solved without education according to Robinson. That’s why she spends a lot of time going to schools and presenting valuable information, not about recycling, but reduction and re-use.

“People have more control over whether or not they are able to reduce they’re consumption and re-use the things that they’ve purchased than they do over whether or not something has a viable market for recycling,” said Robinson.

The idea of a viable market is a fluid concept according to Robinson and it illustrates that the industry is much more like a business than anything else.

“If there’s not really a great market right now for plastic, which there isn’t or there’s not really a great market for paper, which there isn’t,” said Robinson. “Oftentimes we end up having to pay recyclers to take our stuff .”

Chatham County Recycling is located at 1321 Eisenhower Dr. Their hours of operation are Tuesday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information on what kinds of recyclable items they accept and a full list of their programs click here.

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