Athens-Limestone Recycling is one of 16 agencies across the state recently awarded a recycling grant from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
Athens-Limestone Recycling received $116,014 from the grants, which totaled more than $1.4 million across the state. The grants will be used at the agencies to purchase equipment such as balers, compactors, recycling trailers and bins, collection vehicles and to help to educate citizens and encourage recycling.
ADEM officials said the funds were made possible through the Solid Wastes and Recyclable Materials Management Act, which was passed by the Alabama Legislature in 2008. The legislation imposed a $1-per-ton fee on all solid wastes disposed of in state landfills. A portion of the proceeds generated by the fee supported the Alabama Recycling Fund, which provides the foundation for ADEM to award the recycling grants on an annual basis.
The 16 recycling grants awarded this year bring the total amount of grants awarded to statewide agencies by ADEM to more than $20 million and the number of grant recipients to nearly 200 agencies.
Athens-Limestone Recycling has received eight grants from ADEM since 2009, according to Ruby McCartney, plant manager and grant writer at Athens-Limestone Recycling.
“These funds will not only benefit local communities, but will boost Alabama’s recycling rate,” said Stephen Cobb, chief of ADEM’s Land Division. “A recycling rate of 25% was set in legislation, and that goal has been met and maintained over the past two years. The grants will re-energize stale recycling programs, further enhance other flourishing recycling programs, and support education and outreach activities to promote the importance of recycling throughout the respective communities.”
McCartney said Athens-Limestone Recycling is “very happy” to be awarded the grant. The funds will be used to purchase a forklift, a vertical baler, a ground level sorting system and used for educational purposes, she said.
McCartney is surprised the center was awarded the ground level sorting system, which is equipment that will make it easier for items be sorted. The center — which receives roughly 90,000 pounds of recyclable materials per a full-capacity week — is currently using a table to sort items brought to the center.
“We pretty much put our hands on all of it — cardboard, aluminum, paper, glass or plastic,” McCartney said.
She said the center averages 4 to 5 million pounds of recyclables a year. The center is keeping those recyclables out of the landfill, McCartney said.
McCartney said the center has an ongoing ADEM grant wish list.
“We try to weigh out what is best for us,” she said.
McCartney said the equipment to be bought from grant money has to be purchased between Oct. 1 and Sept. 30, 2021, and they are looking forward to the coming months.
Athens-Limestone Recycling Center was forced to halt services earlier this year after restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic prevented inmates from helping process recyclable materials at the center.
The center, located at 15896 Lucas Ferry Road, recently started accepting cardboard from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
McCartney said the center, which is celebrating its 40-year-anniversary, is thankful for residents' patience during this time and are anxious to return to full service.
She said they will slowly start adding services back and plan to add aluminum, steel and glass in coming weeks.