What weighs more than 205 African elephants, and helps save natural resources? It’s the 2,502,100 pounds of recyclable materials collected by Dalton residents participating in the Curbside Recycling Program in 2016! Last year those little blue bins collected 1,251 tons of materials including plastic bottles and jugs, glass bottles, junk mail, newspaper, and more.
If only one type of material had been collected the 1,251 would be the weight equivalent of 87,490,934 empty aluminum beverage cans. It’s also the weight equivalent of 17,049,067 empty paperboard cereal boxes. That’s about 516 boxes recycled per resident! Recycling instead of landfilling also saved an estimated 2,131 cubic yards of landfill space which helps extend the life of the landfill in Whitfield County.
Materials that are recycled instead of being thrown away are sent to manufactures who depend on recycled content, instead of virgin materials, to make their products. When recycled, materials are used again to make new products, natural resources are conserved. During the manufacturing process the water and energy needed to make new products are dramatically reduced. The amount recycled last year saved enough energy to power 86 household for a whole year.
It all starts with city residents in single-family homes of three units or less that have garbage service through the City of Dalton Public Works Department. Voluntary recycling at the curb has been in place for single family homes of three units or less since 1991 making 2016 the 25th year of residential recycling. Residents that have garbage pickup provided by the city may also request one to three blue recycling bins depending on the size of their household. If you have a garbage cart but no recycling bin, call Public Works at 706-278-7077 to request delivery.
Recycling at the curb could not be possible without the drivers of the curbside recycling trucks who stop at each home on their route once a week to pick up recyclables from the blue bins. During the City Council meeting on Monday the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority recognized Jason Davis, Danny Sluder, and Wesley Webb for the exceptional work they do collecting the community’s recyclables. Each driver separates the recyclables in the blue bins by hand into corresponding compartments on the collection truck. It’s estimated that the crew handles more than 4,000 blue bins each week.
Items that can be recycled at the curb include newspapers, magazines, and other paper products that are clean and dry. Cardboard boxes that have been broken down or flattened and folded down to three feet or less. Also collected are aluminum and bi-metals cans; glass bottles and jars colored brown, blue, green, or clear; and plastic bottles, jars, and jugs with screw on lids. Containers that are being set aside for recycling need to be rinsed out, and be free of food residue and other liquids. It’s ok to leave the labels and lids on the containers.
To help drivers sort quicker, residents are encouraged to place all paper in one bin and containers in another. Or if you only have one bin, place all paper on the bottom and containers on top. Avoid over loading the bin and causing litter by breaking down and flattening all boxes and crushing plastic and aluminum containers.
After recyclables are collected at the curb the drivers deliver the materials to the Authority’s recycling center where employees sort and bale materials by type. The bales are stored until there is enough to fill a tractor trailer and send to manufactures to make new products. One bale of just cardboard can weigh over 1,200 pounds and requires skid-steers to be moved. A bale of plastic water and soda bottles can weigh 1,150 pounds and contain over 21,000 individual bottles.
Once a bale arrives at a manufacturing facility the recyclables are typically shredded, cleaned, melted, and reformed into a new product. In as little as 60 days a soda can could be recycled process and back on the store shelves as a new soda can for you to enjoy again. When you’re out shopping, take a moment to read the labels on different containers. You may find that your cereal box contains 30% recycled content or more. Who knows, your old newspaper may be part of your cereal box today.
Recycling instructions are available online at the City’s website: www.cityofdalton-ga.gov. Click on Departments, then Public Works, and Recycling Instructions to watch instructional videos and download the one-page recycling guide. With so many benefits that come from recycling, the City of Dalton has truly made a long-term commitment to keeping useful materials out of the landfill and conserving natural resources.