Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

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 hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Lion and the Lamb: A promised land?

    Back in biblical times there was a group of people who believed that God had promised them a segment of land on this planet that would be theirs forever. Who could have known back then that this ancient promise and territorial justification would be used by their descendants today to claim the same segment of land?

    July 29, 2014

  • We the People: Bring back the American dream

    Our economy continues to expand. The stock market is at record levels, yet many ask why so many of us are struggling?  Barely half of us believe the American dream is attainable.

    July 29, 2014

  • Tidbits: Taking a low-tech break

    Feeling increasingly strangled by my electronic leash, with phone, text messages, email, social media and a variety of other forms of communication always at my side, I took the weekend off.

    July 28, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Governing before and after mass corruption

    Laws in America were originally written simply. Every citizen could read them quickly and understand their meaning. The founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance and the Constitution of the United States, none of which was longer than 4,500 words.

    July 28, 2014

  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • 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

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
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