By BILL MARDIS, Editor Emeritus Commonwealth Journal
Some 4,200 curbside recycling containers in Pulaski County have increased by 18 percent the amount of materials recycled by Pulaski County Recycling Center since the curbside program got under way in February.
Gerald Hines, solid waste coordinator for Pulaski County, said about 35 percent of residences in the county are participating in the recycling effort. Distribution of the containers began the second week of January and it took about six weeks to deliver one to every home.
“Most counties have recycling participation in the low 20s percentagewise, so we are way ahead of that,” Hines noted.
The Pulaski County Recycling Center recycled 3,727,627 pounds in 2010, 4,575,977 pounds in 2011 and 4,756,441 pounds in 2012.
The 18 percent increase due to curbside containers will push 2013 recycling to more than 5 million pounds, a record. Some 87 tons of recyclable materials come in each month from the curbside containers. Residential collections from the containers are made on a monthly schedule.
Hines said he worked on the curbside collection idea for more than two years. It ended up with Waste Connections of Kentucky, as part of its bid to continue garbage collection, supplied the curbside containers at a cost of more than $1 million, Hines said. The latest contract also decreased the residential garbage collection fee by 17 cents, Hines added.
“I understand if a person buys one of the large green containers it would cost about $70,” said Hines. “I am told Waste Connections bought the containers in bulk for about $40 each.”
“We wanted everyone to have one,” said Hines. Eventually, containers not used will be picked up, he noted.
Items for recycling include cardboard boxes, plastics, cans and papers. Styrofoam, food, trash, glass, liquids and plastic bags are not supposed to be put in the containers.
Recyclable materials from curbside containers and various satellite drop containers come in loose form to Pulaski County Recycling Center. An assembly line of employees separates the materials and the various types are weighed, baled and shipped to different locations, including Birmingham and Knoxville.
Increased amounts of recyclable materials coming into the center has upped the number of employees.
“We had seven employees at the start. Now we have 18, and we also use 12-14 inmates,” said Hines.
Recyclable materials create a lot of things,” said Hines. For example, plastic milk jugs turn back into milk jugs and clothing ... a red baseball cap and several pens were among recycled items on his desk.