Recycle, reduce, reuse revealed as solutions

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Recycling continues to be the hot topic at public hearings conducted by a Marshall County consultant on what should be done if and when Cedar Ridge Landfill is closed sooner or later.

Reduction of what people acquire with some intention of trashing the packaging and/or even the entire product is emerging as another major point, according to Bill Griggs, co-owner of Griggs & Maloney consulting engineers.

Marshall County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett agreed.

"It keeps coming back to that," Liggett said of the public's interest in recycling. "That, and how to cut back on the volume of waste; Try to use products that can be recycled. Some are."

There's also a continuing interest in educating the general public on solid waste issues, most notably the lessons taught to public school students about recycling, largely because children apply at home what they learn. That draws their parents into the system and increases recycling.

"They agreed we should educate the children and the seniors," Griggs said while reflecting on what consensus emerged from a discussion Thursday night in the Lewisburg Recreation Center.

Ultimately, there will always be garbage that requires disposal, although backyard composting was mentioned during one of the three hearings conducted by Griggs who's to draft a final solution on disposal.

"In the future, when the landfill is closed," Griggs said, "the county's solid waste will go to another landfill..."

In anticipation of that day, he continued, "I will conduct a cost analysis for direct haul and a transfer station."

Direct haul is the journey a garbage truck takes from its collection rounds in neighborhoods or from a convenience center.

"Transportation costs will depend on volume and distance," he said.

Obviously, volume will decrease as recycling increases and recycling is growing in Lewisburg this spring when the service started nearly a year ago in the southwest quadrant of the town is to be expanded to all neighborhoods.

"Lewisburg is committed to curbside recycling and most of the county residents said the recycling facilities at the convenience centers are adequate," Griggs said the morning after his consultation with Lewisburg residents and their neighbors from parts of the county nearby.

"We had about 20 people" in the Rec-Center where the third and final round of public hearings on solid waste was conducted. "They were enthusiastic and included citizens and county commissioners" among various other officials such as Morgan Thomas, director of solid waste for the county, and Terri Douglas, spokeswoman for Waste Management Inc.

Two or three Lewisburg Council members also attended, as did Barbara Woods, chairwoman of the Council-appointed Curbside Recycling Committee who, in recent weeks, announced her candidacy for mayor in he city's May 5 election.

The discussion lasted about an hour and a half, Griggs said, turning to some of the statistics he's collecting for his report to the Marshall County Commission.

Those numbers include the weight of trash collected at the five convenience centers and trash hauled by Lewisburg garbage trucks.

The locations and annual weights are as follows:

2,031 tons from Chapel Hill;

899 tons from Old Columbia Road;

1,056 tons from Belfast;

627 tons from Cornersville, and;

5,184 tons from Lewisburg.

The total is one ton shy of 9,800 tons.

Data on collections from local industries have not been collected, but Griggs is going to get that information, he said.

The recycling program started in Lewisburg last spring began with hopes that it would include a revenue stream to help support the program, but that was before the nation's and global economic crisis arose and Griggs had a couple of cautionary tales to tell.

In December of 2007, cardboard sold for recycling was commanding a price of $130 per ton, he said. Nearly two months ago, the price was $30 a ton.

It's been worse.

Years ago, Griggs participated in a recycling program and was on the truck driven to a recycling business that had purchased paper, plastic, metal and cardboard. He was on a truck with a load of cardboard.

A man at the gate thanked them for their interest in recycling, but advised they were no longer accepting cardboard, Griggs recalled.

He and others acknowledged that they wouldn't be able to sell their load of recyclable cardboard, but without a place to put it, they asked: Could they just give it to that business?

"'You don't understand,'" came the reply, Griggs reported, "'We're not accepting cardboard.'"

Marshall County commissioners on the Commission's Solid Waste Committee have visited a recycling center in Lawrenceburg where the local government stores its recyclable materials when the price is low or non-existent.