With the help of a state grant and a low interest loan from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, Bulloch County has completed a major expansion of its recycling processing facility and initiated curbside single-stream recycling in the city of Statesboro.
Single-stream recycling is a process in which materials can be comingled so that individual households do not need to sort their recyclables.
Two weeks ago, Bulloch County's recycling program delivered its first curbside recycling carts to Statesboro city residents who had signed up for the program. Bulloch County facilities division director Bob Smith said discussions to expand the county's recycling program began about four years ago.
"We started talking about expanding the existing recycling processing facility because of growing public interest and participation in the county's recycling programs," he said. "Recycled materials are sorted and baled for marketing at the processing facility on North Main (the former landfill site), and as a result of growing demands, the existing storage capacity for materials to be processed was greatly exceeded."
In 2008, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs announced a grant available for communities with recycling programs which would help fund the expansion of those facilities and the purchase of additional equipment. The grant, known as the "Hub" grant, favored communities that offered single-stream curbside recycling to its residents. Keep Bulloch Beautiful, on behalf of the county, applied for the grant and was awarded $300,000.
"When the county approached us about it, it seemed like very good idea, and we were and are very appreciative of the county bringing this opportunity to our attention," said Statesboro city engineer Robert Cheshire. "We agreed to participate in the curbside recycling within the city, partnering with the county in this effort."
Waste that is collected within Bulloch County is no longer buried in the local landfill. Recyclables from the recycling centers and curbside pickup are sorted, baled, and sold. All other waste is loaded into trucks and taken to the landfill in Wayne County. Bulloch County must pay for the transportation of that waste in addition to the fees charged by the landfill facility.
"The more we recycle, the better it is for our city and county," Cheshire said. "We save on waste transportation fees and landfill fees, because we are transporting less and need less landfill space. Further, the county sells the recyclables and receives money for that."
The curbside recycling effort is being spearheaded by Keep Bulloch Beautiful (KBB) in conjunction with the city and county. Founded in 2000, KBB is a volunteer-based organization whose purpose is to reduce waste, prevent litter and beautify Bulloch County by giving residents the information, tools and support they need to accomplish these things.
"We are so pleased to play an integral part in this effort," said Kelly Collingsworth, executive director of KBB. "We are responsible for marketing the program, keeping track of pounds collected, and keeping track of the participants. Right now, single-stream curbside recycling will be available to a limited number of city residents for the annual fee of $20. We still have some recycling carts available, and anyone in the city can participate. You just need to give us a call."
Collingsworth said this past Thursday's pickup went very smoothly. "Everyone had their carts out by the street, just as with regular garbage pickup," she said. "It is very exciting to begin this new phase of recycling for our community."
Statesboro resident Allison Wright is one of the program's initial participants. With three young children, Wright said convenience is very important to her and her husband.
"This is so much easier than keeping bins in the garage that we haul to the recycling center," she said. "We put everything in the cart and roll it to the curb, just like we do our trash can. It is good for the earth and good for our family. I think it is a wonderful program."
Collingsworth said there is one exception to the city's curbside recycling program.
"We are unable to accept glass in the carts, but everything else from newspapers to cans and plastics can be placed in the cart," she said. "Anything you would take to one of the recycling centers can be placed in the cart, again, with the exception of glass."
Smith said the expanded infrastructure that was built is fairly extensive.
"The new 13,000 square foot expansion of the recycling processing facility involved the purchase of new conveyors and sorting equipment, the completion of access roads, and the fabrication of metal storage bins and sorting platforms," he said. "The fabrication was accomplished by several skilled inmates from the Bulloch County Correctional Institute. Warden Bill Tompkin's inmates made significant contributions to this project, saving thousands of dollars with their efforts."
Smith reports that sale of recycled materials generates around $300,000 annually, and in addition to materials sold, disposal fees for recycled materials are avoided at an approximate value of $185,000 annually.
To learn more about curbside recycling or to find the location of one of the 16 recycling centers located within the county, visit Keep Bulloch Beautiful's website at www.keepbullochbeautiful.org