You set out your recycling bin once a week and then forget about it. Just as the saying goes, it’s then “Out of sight, out of mind.” You see the little blue bins everywhere for Dalton Curbside Recycling, but do you consider how they get taken up and the people behind the scenes?
Meet Jason Davis. Jason has been working with the Dalton City Curbside Recycling program for three and a half years. He has a family of four and he was previously a mechanic at Beaulieu before leaving to work for the City of Dalton. Public works manages the collection of both garbage and recycling at the curb.
All of the curbside recycling drivers go out every weekday whether it is hot and humid or cold and rainy. They drive a different route each day of the week and sort through the recyclables in each bin by hand. They separate them into corresponding compartments on the collection truck. They can pick up around 300 blue bins in a day.
This is an incredibly important job. Materials that are recycled help save the energy and water that would have been used to make a product from virgin or raw materials. Recyclable items collected at the curb are sent to manufacturers right here in Georgia who will use those materials to make new products.
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 are accepted. Also, 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.
While these drivers are often unsung heroes of the environment, it can be a difficult job. The main struggles that these drivers deal with is contamination. All of the curbside bins have stickers that can guide each resident on what can be put in the bin. Many residents still struggle with understanding what can go in the bin and may “wish-cycle,” meaning that they put it in the bin just hoping that it can be recycled or are using the bin to capture trash that didn’t fit in their trash can.
This can lead to large issues with contamination which increases the amount of time spent on sorting through the bin and increased dangers in handling it. Drivers have to be careful of sharp objects put into the bins such as broken glass hidden by other items or even needles, which cannot be recycled. People will often also toss Styrofoam plates and cups inside sometimes with leftover food still on them.
Styrofoam cannot be recycled locally and the food waste can cause major problems. These bins are set outside without coverage so rain can cause the food to leak over all of items causing them to be unfit for recycling. That food can also attract maggots or local wildlife, neither of which we want in our curbside bins.
Jason Davis said he likes when “citizens take their time and make sure their recyclables are straight.” This makes his job safer, easier to complete, and allows him to get to the next bin more quickly. To help curbside collection truck drivers sort quicker, residents are encouraged to place all paper in one bin and containers in another. If you only have one bin, place all paper on the bottom and containers on top. Avoid overloading the bin and causing litter by breaking down and flattening all boxes and crushing plastic and aluminum containers. Jason has recently been promoted to Traffic Signal Technician in the Traffic Division at Public Works and he will be missed as one of our fantastic curbside recycling drivers!
Have Questions? Call the City of Dalton Public Works Department at 706-278-7077 to request a bin or to inquire about your pickup day. Recycling Instructions for the City of Dalton Curbside Recycling Program are posted online at the city’s website, http://www.cityofdalton-ga.gov/index.asp?SEC=65ACB53C-54C7-419A-8E93-84C951F6DF34&Type=B_BASIC . Call the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority’s Recycling Center at 706-278-5001 for questions about what is accepted for recycling at the curb in Dalton. You can also contact Recycling Ben, Dalton-Whitfield’s resident recycling mascot, on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat @RecyclingBen with questions about what can and cannot be put in your bin.