Local recycling center helps take stress off landfills

Ty’Derious Rothchild, left, and Chris Norman prescreen bags of recyclables.

News Staff Writer

The City of Atmore doesn’t have a high-tech recycling center, but local citizens still manage to send around 20 tons of recyclable paper, glass, metal and other materials to high-tech recycling centers elsewhere.
“We usually take about two tons a month, or at least a ton and half, to the recycling centers,” said Calvin Grace, Public Works Director for the city. “We don’t get any money for it; we just get it off our hands and out of our environment. If we take two tons to the recycling center, that’s two less tons that will go to the landfill.”
Recyclables brought to the city’s 412 East Ridgeley Street center are sorted, then forwarded to a pair of area recycling centers, bringing to four the number of facilities that accept the refuse created by residents and visitors.
“We take our cardboard to Poarch’s recycling center on Alabama 21,” Grace said. “Our other stuff goes to Perdido Landfill in Beulah; they have a recycling center. As far as the other stuff, we take limbs, yard debris and things like that to the city landfill, and our household garbage goes to the landfill in Brewton.”
And, while the city isn’t generating any revenue with its reusable items, it also isn’t having to pay anything to get rid of them. Not at the moment, anyway.
“We’re not having to pay any fees right now for our recyclable material,” said the public works director. “They’ve told us we would eventually have to start back. Most of our stuff is pretty clean; they don’t have do a lot of sorting.”
Grace pointed out that most Atmore residents seem to take recycling seriously, although some want to recycle but don’t want to go to the trouble to do it the right way.
“We’ve got some people who are real serious about recycling,” he said. “They are really into it, and they do recycling the proper way. Then there’s a few people who bring things they’re not supposed to bring.”
That’s why the city requires that recyclables (except cardboard) be put into the green bags that are available at the local recycling center.
“We prescreen it,” he explained, noting that “two or three workers” usually spend “a couple of hours a day” sorting. “When it comes in bags, we open the bags up and pour what’s in them into the trailer. That’s why we use the green bags, so we can kind of see through them. What we see that’s not supposed to be there, we take it out before it goes down (to the next recycling facility).”
Those who bring materials to the local center for recycling should put their bags on the ground by the recycling trailers. Residents can get free green bags from the mailbox adjacent to the recycling shed and trailers. (The city requests that people use the “bring a bag, take a bag” philosophy to make sure the supply of bags isn’t depleted too quickly.)
Grace pointed out that a long list of materials, including Styrofoam, aerosol cans and waxy food and drink containers (like milk, ice cream, etc.) are not recyclable and should not be taken to the recycling center.
“Anything you’re not sure of, just throw it in with your garbage,” he said.
He added that, if more people start recycling, he could be forced to station an employee there each hour it is open (8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, except on city holidays).
“Eventually, if it grows, I’ll have to keep somebody out there all day,” he said. “I wish the city could make some money off it, but we’re helping stop the landfill from filling up.”
Complete lists of items that can be recycled — and those that can’t be — are listed on the City of Atmore’s website.