With proposed changes in the recycling world making it more difficult and expensive to handle solid waste, Bulloch County commissioners have a plan in mind that would make things easier on residents and be more cost-effective for taxpayers.
No current disposal sites will close, but there would be changes in hours of operation and methods of disposal, said Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch. A plan is in discussion, but not yet finalized. Once approved, the changes would be implemented in early May
“China’s ‘National Sword’ policy, enacted in January 2018, banned the import of most plastics and other material headed for that nation’s recycling processors,” he said. “This policy has significantly impacted the worldwide recycling market, including Bulloch County’s recycling efforts. While interest in recycling has increased, the contamination of the recyclable material significantly impacts the long-term sustainability of recycling in Bulloch County.”
It has become too costly to take in recyclables that are contaminated, so the county plans to revamp its waste disposal system, he said.
There will be changes in which disposal sites in the county are either actual recycling centers or simply sites that accept all household waste, not separated into recyclables. There are planned changes that extend the operational hours of county disposal sites, and only some will be manned by attendants, Couch said.
Called “convenience centers,” the disposal sites will be more accessible and user-friendly, but the public still needs to do its part, he said.
Bulloch County officials “… must continue to educate the public regarding how and what to recycle,” he said. “The County will install additional and more visual signs on containers at the convenience centers. “
There will still be attendants at the actual recycling centers to ensure proper disposal.
“While these efforts are important, active and trained recycling center attendants are needed to monitor recycling at the convenience centers (that offer recycling) to educate the public and remove recycling contaminants,” he said. “Because the convenience center traffic varies significantly throughout the county (20 to 350 vehicles per day), a re-alignment of personnel, hours and days of operation, and recycling containers is needed to ensure the long-term sustainability of recycling.”
Couch said proposed plans for the Cypress Lake, Pretoria-Rushing, Olney Station, Mill Creek, and Simons Road sites, which see daily visits from 135 to 350, call for hours of operation from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and Friday and Saturday and 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday. They would be closed on Thursdays.
Couch said the plan would increase operational hours for these sites to a combined 3,806 hours more a year than current operations.
These centers would be redesigned, using larger containers, provide better circulation, and more lighting. The county would remove compactors, and bulk and household waste would be combined into two 40-yard containers, he said.
Convenience centers at Clito, Langston Chapel, Pine Inn, Leefield and Stilson see an average of 100 daily visits. The hours open would expand to 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Improvements would include more lighting, and placing one additional compactor, moved from the busiest recycling centers so no new purchases are necessary, he said. Commissioners and county officials are still discussing the days of operation.
At the Denmark, Sinkhole, and Old Groveland Road centers, which see daily visits from 20 to 90 cars, they, too, would operate from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Improvements would include installing more lighting and implementing removal of tire, paper, cardboard and glass/can recycling containers. Days of operation for these centers also are still in discussion.
At the Middleground, Arcola, Ogeechee, Westside, Portal and Union Church centers, daily visits average from 20 to 80 people. Here, the county would install automatic gates and security cameras for these remote areas; remove recycling center attendants, and change hours of operation to 12 hours – 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., which would add an annual combined 10,324 hours more than current operations, Couch said. The county would also remove tire, paper, cardboard and glass/can recycling containers, but add more bulk waste containers. Days these locations would be open are not yet decided.
For the Statesboro city center, plans are to only open on Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Regarding cardboard container replacements, Couch said all containers are to be replaced with wire baskets that permit sorting of cardboard from contaminants.
Benefits of changes
Couch said the schedule changes are expected to be more user-friendly to residents. Eleven recycling centers would stay open an extra 10 to 33 hours each week, while eight would be open an additional hour in the evening to accommodate those who may work later.
The City of Statesboro, which has its own garbage disposal service, would only be open on Saturdays. Overall, the combined additional hours of operation for all centers would be 12,488, he said.
The manned centers will have better trained attendants who can help residents via educational efforts, and the recycling process will be made more expedient by steering the recycling of tires, paper, cardboard and glass/can to the busiest centers, Couch said.
“Layout changes will move recycling activities around the recycling center attendant shelter, and the attendant can work more closely with citizens, which will reduce recycling contamination.”
By removing compactors from the busiest centers, it will “reduce odor and leakage from highly compacted trash,” and these manned centers will help create “more sustainable and marketable recycling materials,” he said. “Greater attention to reducing recycling contamination will result in higher recyclable revenues.”
The addition of larger containers (40-yard) at the busiest centers will require fewer trips to the transfer station, and focusing recycling efforts in busier centers will require less travel.
“Because of low recyclable collections at some centers, contaminants can be introduced due to sitting to long in the rain,” humidity and heat, Couch said. “Hauling costs will decrease as recycling is concentrated closer to higher population centers,” as well as “larger containers are introduced at the busiest centers.”
By eliminating some attendant positions, there would be lower personnel operational costs. “Centralized camera monitoring will assist in dispatching container pickup as needed,” he said.
Couch said the suggested changes would be more efficient and provide better service to residents.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.