Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


April 1, 2013

Three cheers for recycling

CROSSVILLE — Three cheers for the Cumberland County Commission! A few weeks ago, they approved the money needed to fund a single-stream recycling program in Cumberland County, and I, for one, am thrilled.

Single-stream recycling takes the guesswork out of recycling. Don’t know what kind of plastic that container is? No worries — it all goes in one basket. You won’t have to stand out in the cold sorting through drink bottles, detergent bottles, milk cartons and food containers. You can reduce the number of containers you keep around to keep all that stuff before you take your things to the recycling center.

I try to recycle, and not just because I have Gen X guilt about killing the planet with my disposal junk. Yes, recycling is good for the planet, but it’s also good for saving money. Just like upgrading my home to reduce energy use is good for my bottom line, reducing the amount of trash going into the landfill saves the county money — money that could be used for other things, like upgrading our schools, adding more personnel to the sheriff’s or fire departments, making it possible to pay more competitive wages to our county employees, or maybe even reducing the amount of property taxes we pay in this county.

Cumberland County no longer has a landfill. The county — that’s you and me and everyone else that lives here — has to pay a tipping fee per ton of garbage that’s taken to an out-of-county landfill. And there’s the cost of transporting all that waste. All that adds up to big money. In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency reported Americans produced about 4.3 pounds of trash per day, per person. Most of that is paper and paperboard products. If you’re like me and cooking consists of opening a box from the freezer and popping it into the microwave, you know where that trash is coming from. Most of that household waste is recyclable in one way or another. Food scraps can become compost, for example.

In 2011, the county reported about a 20 percent rate of recycling. If it were more convenient to recycle, that number would likely increase.

I know it will in my house. My altruism goes only so far before I stop and think, “Just what’s in this for me?” It’s a challenge to find space for my cans, my plastics and my cardboard and my junk mail and magazines. I recycle my newspapers at work because it’s convenient. I recycle at home because it’s the right thing to do for my community and my world. But I might do a better job of it if it were more convenient — especially when it’s cold out. I detest being cold, and standing out there on Marietta St. sorting through my plastic in the middle of a snow storm isn’t high on my list of priorities. Making it easier for me would make me want to participate more.

The program as described so far would have a conveyor belt system where people would pick through the recycled materials, sorting it to paper, plastic and so forth. The idea is to use workers from the Cumberland County Jail as part of a work program.

Those recycled materials can be sold and provide funds for the county. That’s right, we’re not just saving money by not sending this stuff to the landfill, we’re getting money when we turn around and sell all that stuff. Every year, the Cumberland County Recycling Center collects and sells more recycled material, bringing in additional revenue. Low estimates provided by Tom Breeden, Cumberland County Solid Waste director, and Mike Harvel, 7th District commissioner and solid waste and recycling center employee, have the county netting about $400,000 a year in revenue from selling additional recyclable materials and saving $124,000 in tipping fees.

The single-stream recycling program is being funded with a grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation grant, providing $320,000 of the program costs. The county approved funding recently to purchase a larger piece of property adjacent to the current recycling center on Marietta St., with a building in place already. The solid waste department will use $649,000 of its fund balance to fund the project.

The county has instituted several programs to keep recyclable and hazardous materials out of the landfills. That includes the glass pulverizer. There really isn’t a good market for recycled glass and those empty bottles are heavy. In the trash business, heavy equals bad for whoever is footing the bill. The glass pulverizer takes that bulky material and crushes it into a fine, sand-like substance.

I try to do my part here, as well, snooping through the recycling bins for bottles that I want to use in crafts, but I can barely make a dent in the amount of glass that comes into the center.

You can also take electronics to the recycling center where they will be properly disposed of instead of going into a landfill. TVs, computer monitors and other materials pose significant environmental hazards if they aren’t properly disposed of.

The Cumberland County Solid Waste Department is to be commended for its economical approach to helping the county save money and dealing with all the trash we create as we go about our business. We’re fortunate. Other counties in this area don’t have a recycling program at all. Others have recycling available, but you have to pay to recycle. Hopefully the new program will be up and running soon and will serve as a shining example of a successful program to those counties around us that need a little encouragement to help themselves and their world.

• • •

Heather Mullinix is assistant editor of the Crossville Chronicle. Her column is published on Tuesdays. She may be reached at

Text Only
  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

  • Tidbits: Make the best of your road trip

    I didn’t care for road trips when I was young. It was so confining to have to sit in the back seat, staring out the window for hour after hour, hayfield after hayfield. And when you’re a kid, time doesn’t pass like it does when you get a little older. Just the trip from Jamestown, TN, to Crossville, roughly 30 miles, felt like an eternity!

    July 14, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Biased climate agenda will cost trillions

    For anyone who has been educated in the history of science and scientific method, this whole issue of “Global Warming” or “Climate Change” is an embarrassing and painful exercise.

    July 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Time for an oil change

    The land of Iraq, earlier known as Mesopotamia, has a long history going back to Neanderthal times some 60,000 years ago. Later, around 10,000 years ago, it became the site for some of the most important developments in human history: the invention of the wheel, planting of cereal crops, the development of cursive script, mathematics, astronomy and agriculture. Today it is recognized as one of the cradles of civilization.

    July 8, 2014

  • We the People: American women, be informed and vote

    Voting for today’s Republican Party and its Tea Party members, means you are voting against more than most realize.  This is especially true for women.

    July 8, 2014

  • TIDBITS: Beat the heat in July and August

    I hope everyone enjoyed the Independence Day weekend, with lots of celebration and fun. We couldn’t have asked for better weather this July 4, or 5 or 6. In fact, it was so nice I was tempted to try and bottle some of that sunshine, low humidity and gentle breeze that greeted me each morning.

    July 7, 2014

  • STUMPTALK: Demand better from government workers

    In a recent congressional hearing we learned that the VA awarded excessive bonuses to nearly all of their doctors and administrators. In a recent column we mentioned that the civil service employment provisions should be revised so that federal employees in the executive branch could be fired if they don’t perform to the satisfaction of the president. The president would then know that he (or she) will be solely responsible for any failures of the administration and would be more likely to demand hiring competent employees and insist on satisfactory performance.

    July 7, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014