By Kim West
Having something new, old and blue is usually associated with a bride’s ensemble but it also applies to a $150,000 recycling program being rolled out by Athens Sanitation Department.
Public Works Director James Rich said sanitation workers, over the next two weeks, will deliver blue, 96-gallon recycling carts to city residents that already participate in the recycling program. The new carts cost approximately $50 each, according to city officials.
The old green bins can be kept by residents for private use or taken to the Athens-Limestone Recycling Center at 15896 Lucas Ferry Road.
“A letter explaining the program will be delivered with each cart, with recycling running every other Monday to households,” Rich said.
The new single-stream recycling program will begin Monday, Aug. 5. Pickup for residents living west of U.S. 31 will be the first and third Mondays, while those living east of the highway will be on the second and fourth Mondays.
Sanitation Director Earl Glaze, who proposed the change during a City Council work session in March, confirmed Thursday that Athens Utilities customers were advised in a June-August newsletter that the reason for the change is the cost of replacing the city’s two deteriorating recycling trucks.
Glaze previously said it would cost the city $260,000 to replace the trucks, plus $80,000 to hire two more employees to man the new vehicles.
The new program will also improve safety conditions for workers with the existing program who are exposed to oncoming traffic as they sort through the bins. The city will use automated garbage trucks to collect recycling materials, which will be transported to Decatur until the Athens center can process single-stream recycling.
“We presented to the City Council back in early spring the benefits of commingle recycling. It’s an industry trend that allows people to put more in the carts,” Rich said. “With the little bins, we would get a lot of little bits of paper so having the new carts will help reduce litter.”
The city will accept residential cardboard beginning Aug. 5, but will no longer accept glass and plastics No. 3-7 at curbside service. The recycling center in Athens has drop-off bins available for those items 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We’ll be able to take residential cardboard now, and that’s a large market with a lot of value,” Rich said. “We think the participation in the recycling program and the quantity of recyclables will be increased.”
New recycling customers can register by calling 256-233-8747. There is no charge to join the city’s recycling program if a resident already has garbage pickup.