Recycling helps sustain the environment for future generations while conserving natural resources such as timber, water and minerals.
Like many communities across the nation, Bradley County continues to search for creative ways to reduce and better manage Municipal Solid Waste (MSW). The reason is clear. According to the EPA, Americans generate more than 250 million tons of trash each year while recycling just over 82 million tons, or about 32.5 percent.
According to Santek Environmental, the operator of our landfill, Bradley County residents and industry disposed of 12,558,000 pounds of garbage in the landfill in 2010. However, this does not represent the total amount of garbage generated in Bradley County.
The city of Cleveland's commercial and residential waste goes to a landfill in Athens. With that said, there is an argument to be made for more attention to recycling which reduces the need for land filling.
Recycling is voluntary in Bradley County due to the cost of collection, transportation and sorting involved with curbside recycling. This expense far exceeds the value of the materials recovered. Yet, our voluntary efforts are worthwhile as the numbers show.
In 2010, Bradley County's three recycling dropoff centers collected 286,214 pounds of corrugated cardboard material. This is an increase of about 10 tons over the previous year. Recycled newspaper and mixed paper in 2010 totaled 908,331 pounds while recycled glass and aluminum totaled 56,529 pounds and 8,886 pounds respectively.
Most of the other recyclables collected at the county's three dropoff centers held fairly steady, but we are seeing a benefit from the way “construction and demolition” (C&D) waste is now being handled. Bradley County has a state permit to put C&D waste into a separate disposal area at the landfill. This keeps it out of the lined landfill which is very expensive to construct. As a result, the county gets credit from the state government toward our 25 percent waste reduction goal.
On May 24, 2010, Bradley County launched its new recycling program for number 1 and number 2 plastic. Since then, we have recycled 29,700 pounds of plastic which would otherwise have ended up in the county landfill. Number 1 plastic includes most beverage bottles such as water and soda bottles. Number 2 plastic includes milk jugs, shampoo bottles and laundry detergent bottles. These items are collected at the Peerless Road and Urbane Road dropoff centers.
The expansion into plastic recycling came on the heels of the successful launch of our computer/electronic recycling program in August 2009. The community has shown that there is a big demand for this service. Our records show that 25,563 pounds of electronics were recycled in 2010. We accept most electronics, such as computers, keyboards, printers and much more. However, we cannot accept televisions or computer monitors.
I am asking each citizen to make a commitment to recycling by using our three conveniently located dropoff centers. The landfill center is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Peerless Road Center is located behind the Farmer's Market and is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. The Urbane Road Center at the recreation complex is open Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thank you for your recycling efforts. If you haven't been recycling, I encourage you to begin in 2011. When you recycle you help extend the life of the landfill, create jobs and conserve energy. That's good for you the taxpayer, it's good for the environment and it’s good for Bradley County.
Our increased commitment to recycling, and the short- and long-term benefits our community can receive, is just another reason I tell others Bradley County is Tennessee at its best.