By Johnny Jackson
Henry County officials are hoping to make the county greener and more cost-efficient by kicking off a county-wide, curbside recycling program.
"With nearly 73,000 households throwing away an average of 16.8 pounds of waste per day, in a community with no landfill of its own, it is critical that we begin doing more to reduce our waste," said Julie Hoover-Ernst, communications director for Henry County.
By promoting the use of waste-hauler recycling programs, the county is attempting to reduce the amount, and cost, of landfill waste collected in the county.
"The landfills only guarantee that they have the capacity to handle Henry County's waste collection needs for the next ten years," Hoover-Ernst said. "Once they become full, waste haulers will have to travel farther to dispose of our waste, driving our costs up."
According to Hoover-Ernst, beginning the recycling program now could help minimize waste in the environment, as well as waste-collection costs to citizens.
The county adopted the curbside recycling program in February as a component of its Solid Waste Management Plan, said Michael Harris, Henry's planning and zoning division director.
He added that the county launched the recycling program on June 1, requiring each of the four waste-hauling companies operating in Henry County to provide curbside service for recyclables. "While the feedback we've received from citizens has been extremely positive, we are still hearing that some people are unaware of the program," said Harris.
The county will broaden its efforts to get the word out about the recycling option by providing informational flyers to the schools, he said, for children to take home to their families. The campaign, he added, could reach as many as 20,000 households and, eventually, benefit some 100,000 people in the county.
"Both the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education," said Harris, "have embraced this initiative, and have encouraged both respective staffs to work together in partnership to educate and encourage families to participate in the county curbside recycling program."
The four waste-hauling companies operating in Henry County - Rover, Inc.; ADM; CLM Sanitation; and All Southern Robertson - are allowed to charge a small fee to address the additional costs associated with providing the recycling service.
The fee is $5 per month for twice-a-month pick-up at the McDonough-based waste hauler, Rover, Inc., according to the company's co-owner, Chuck Ferrell.
Ferrell said the fee is used to supplement the operating costs of collecting and shipping the recyclable trash to the Griffin Recycling Center in Griffin, Ga.
He said of the company's 7,000 regular customers, only about 100 customers have joined the Rover, Inc., Curbside Recycling Program, which offers services throughout most of Henry County, and parts of Clayton County.
Ferrell said he began recycling a while back and has found that doing so has been cost-effective for his four-member household. "It's reduced my waste to 70 percent at home," he said. "We've gone from four bags of trash a week, to a small kitchen bag of trash and two big bags of recyclables. I think I'll recycle from now on."
Starting up the recycling program has been slightly more expensive, he continued, adding to operating costs, but he is hopeful the investment will pay off in the near future.
"It's something that we [he and co-owner, Dale Rutledge] talked about on day one, when we started in 2002, and I definitely think it's a good investment," Ferrell said. "When you recycle, you save on the dump fees. And if you get a lot of participation, it will be more cost-efficient."
He anticipates that the money the company saves on dump fees will help offset the operating costs of recycling.
McDonough resident, Ronnie Shacklett, said he, too, has seen a benefit to recycling.
Shacklett is a CLM Sanitation customer, who lives in unincorporated Henry County and has made a habit of recycling each weekend with his wife. He added that they dispose of their recyclables at the Henry County Recycling Center in McDonough each Saturday.
"There are weeks that we don't even put the can at the sidewalk," Shacklett said. "Most of it is just paper in the trash cans. It was an easy way to help, and it didn't take much effort. It's something everybody could do."
To learn more about Henry County's Curbside Recycling Program, visit the county's web site.
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