Dalton recycle efforts soar

By Kevin Cummings
Chattanooga Times Dalton Bureau

DALTON, Ga. — Dalton's leaders say great strides have been made in curbside recycling and there is more progress to come.

Bridget Sanford, recycling coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Regional Solid Waste Management Authority, said residents' curbside recycling increased by 50 percent from 2007 to 2008.

“If you recycle, talk to your neighbor who doesn't. Tell them how easy it is. Tell them how much more room there is in your garbage can,” she said. “If you're a resident who is actively recycling, keep up the good work and thank you.”

Benny Dunn, Public Works director, and City Councilwoman Denise Wood, a member of the solid waste authority, both said they are also urging residents to recycle.

According to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, at least 30 percent of all household garbage is recyclable.

Curbside recycling also saves money, Mrs. Sanford said.

Last year the city reduced expenses by more than $23,072 in avoided disposal fees and saved more than 1,490 cubic yards of landfill space.

Additionally, Dalton earned more than $26,880 in shared revenue from the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority, which processes and markets the recycled materials.



598: Tons of curbside recyclables collected in 2007

896: Tons collected in 2008

1,625: Additional blue recycling bins distributed to residents in 2008

10,659: Trees saved in 2008 by mixed paper recycling

Source: Dalton-Whitfield Regional Solid Waste Management Authority


To receive a blue residential recycling bin in the city of Dalton call Public Works at 706-278-7077. Bins are free to city residents. Recyclable materials include mixed paper, cardboard, newspapers, magazines, plastic bottles (No. 1 & 2), glass bottles and jars, bi-metal cans and aluminum cans.


Whitfield County plans to expand recycling effort

Kevin Cummings
Chattanooga Times Dalton Bureau

DALTON, Ga. — Whitfield County leaders said they want to revitalize recycling programs in the county.

According to Bridget Sanford, recycling coordinator with the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Management Authority, the Authority board has decided to add a slew of new recycling drop-off points in busy areas.

Potential locations include government offices, businesses and industries, schools and recreational areas. Ms. Sanford said the Authority wants to change people’s thoughts about recycling and make it more convenient.

Whitfield County Commissioner Randy Waskul said there is an entire industry based on recyclables, and the Solid Waste Management Authority’s initiatives will have a significant impact.

“Anything we can do to expand our recycling program is great,” he said.

The program will collect cardboard, books, newspapers, magazines, paper, many fiber materials, aluminum cans and No. 1 and No. 2 plastic bottles.

Ms. Sanford said the expanded effort will make recycling readily available to about 50,000 people.

The city already has a curbside recycling program, and area landfills have drop-off containers as well.


Dalton pushes recycling

By Erin Fuchs
Chattanooga Times Dalton Bureau

DALTON, Ga. — Alderwoman Denise Wood said she’s not a “Dumpster diver” but admitted to rescuing recyclables.

“If I see an aluminum can on the top of the (trash) container, I will pull it out and drop it in the recycling,” she said.

As the city prepares to reduce the days it collects garbage, city officials are urging residents to minimize waste amounts by recycling certain materials.

Waste management officials estimate that 30 percent to 40 percent of trash is actually recyclable.

Norman Barashick, executive director of the Solid Waste Authority, said recycling is “an easy choice.”

“It’s just a matter of breaking that mindset that everything goes into the garbage,” he said.

The City Council agreed last week to cut trash collection from twice to once a week starting May 1.

Public Works Director Benny Dunn said the move will save Dalton about $150,000 a year. “If we can get everybody to recycle, I think everybody can make it (on) one day a week,” he said.

The city has already had a test-run for once-a-week collection. In 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, fuel supplies were dangerously low, Mr. Dunn said. “We were trying to save all the diesel fuel for our fire trucks,” he said.

So, the city moved to once a week collection for two months, which Mr. Dunn said went smoothly.

But city resident Randy Mayfield doesn’t think it was smooth.

He said a “tremendous amount of garbage” piled up during once-a-week pickup.

“Disposable diapers, garbage for a week, is not sanitary,” Mr. Mayfield said. “We’re talking about flies ... maggots.”

Still, Mayor David Pennington pointed out that many cities collect trash only once a week.

And, he said, recycling education will help city residents make the switch to fewer pick-up days.

“They won’t have as much garbage in their can,” he said, “if they’re putting it in the recycling bin.”

About 20 years ago, only one curbside recycling program operated in the U.S. “By 2006, about 8,660 curbside programs had sprouted up around the nation,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site.

Ms. Wood, a self-described “master of recycling,” helped pioneer Dalton’s curbside recycling about 15 years ago. “We’re hoping our program becomes more ... widely used,” she said. “It’s just a matter of starting good habits.”

'Treecycling' a year-round service in Whitfield County

By Erin Fuchs
Chattanooga Times Dalton Bureau

DALTON, Ga. -- Still hanging on to that old Christmas tree?

Whitfield County will recycle those pines and firs for free -- even if you hold off until spring, according to recycling educator Bridget Sanford.

"This gives residents the opportunity to do the environmentally conscious thing with their trees," said Ms. Sanford, who works with the Dalton-Whitfield Regional Solid Waste Management Authority.

On Saturday, Keep Dalton/Whitfield Beautiful hosted its Bring One for the Chipper event.

Residents brought their Christmas trees -- stripped of lights, ornaments and tinsel. The evergreens were then fed into a giant chipper, which ground the trees into soil-enriching mulch. That mulch, in turn, is free to residents who want to use it.

But Saturday wasn't the only day for treecycling. Georgia banned yard waste from public landfills in 1996. To encourage residents not to break the law, Whitfield County has four year-round drop-off points for brush and lawn trimmings.

"If they have a tree that falls in their yard, it can be brought throughout the year," Ms. Sanford said.

Some residents didn't realize they could bring in their trees before the Chipper event.

"We had three dead, brown trees show up, and it was where people had held on to them for the year," Ms. Sanford said.

Free mulch has been in high demand. For information on picking up mulch, call the Waste Management Authority at (706) 277-2545.

More than 6,000 tons of mulch was given to county residents in 2007, Ms. Sanford said.

"This year, we actually ran out of mulch a couple times," she said.

The historic drought, and an outdoor watering ban in much of North Georgia, has underscored the importance of mulching, according to many gardening experts. Mulching helps retain moisture.

But Howard Burnett, a retired forester and Dalton resident, cautions against over-mulching.

"When people think of mulch, they think more is better. Two to four inches of mulch is plenty," Mr. Burnett said. "You want to keep moisture in, but you don't want to keep oxygen out."