Curbside recycling on the rise in Dalton

By: Kelly Jackson, Chattanooga Times Free Press

DALTON, Ga. — By the year’s end, city residents will have recycled more than 1,000 tons of household waste.

It’s the most the city has collected in one year with its curbside recycling program, which started in 2003, said Harvey Levitt, operations manager for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Management Authority.

City Public Works Director Benny Dunn said the number is up this year because “we’ve just got more folks” recycling.

Awareness of the city’s curbside recycling program has grown since the city went from twice-weekly garbage pickup to just once a week in 2008. Officials advocated the city’s free weekly recycling service as a way to reduce trash.

But figures show there’s still room for improvement. Reece Carroll, operations manager with public works, said only about 35 percent of Dalton residents recycle.

Terry Ensley, information technology analyst and accounts manager for the solid waste authority, said the city’s trash totals for 2009 are more than 8,000 tons. More of that could be recycled with increased participation, he said.

But it’s not mandatory that residents recycle, Mr. Levitt said. “All we can do is try to educate and promote the program,” he said.

According to Mr. Dunn, curbside recycling costs about $175,000 a year, but the city is saving about $150,000 annually without the extra day of trash pickup.

The solid waste authority compares recycling totals with those of Rome, Ga., because the curbside program there serves a similar population. This year, Rome’s curbside recycling expects to bring in about 900 tons, Mr. Levitt said.

“We’re going to beat them this year,” he said.

Mr. Levitt said there are “so many reasons” why Dalton residents should recycle, such as saving landfill space and commodities such as trees used for paper and oil used for plastics.

Recycling also supports Georgia jobs, because 80 to 90 percent of residential recycled materials go to facilities in the state, he said.

Next year, the solid waste authority hopes to improve recycling numbers at its four convenience centers. Right now only about 5 percent of county residents using those facilities recycle, Mr. Levitt said.


* 650 tons: 2004

* 704 tons: 2005

* 628 tons: 2006

* 600 tons: 2007

* 893 tons: 2008

* 999 tons: 2009 (as of Tuesday)

Sources: Harvey Levitt and Liz Swafford of the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority