While Chattanooga’s decision to limit curbside recycling and ask residents to use drop-off recycling centers angered some residents, city officials say recycling participation increased last year.
“Monthly curbside recycle collection, coupled with convenience centers, has resulted in a 34 percent increase in the amount of clean recyclable materials collected,” according to city spokesman Richard Beeland.
Recycle collection increased from 2,300 tons in 2006 to 3,081 in 2007, city figures show.
“Our numbers are going up,” Mayor Ron Littlefield said last week. “And we’re saving money.”
Monthly rather than weekly collection saved “tens of thousands of gallons” of diesel fuel that would have been used for trucks and resulted in a 75 percent annual cost savings in fuel, city officials said.
In addition, Mr. Beeland said, the recycling collections have been cleaner, meaning less stuff that can’t be recycled, which resulted in a $90,000 reduction in landfill fees for materials that were not properly sorted.
Orange Grove recycling coordinator Austin Jett attributed the cleaner recycling to education campaigns around town and online.
“People are realizing and educating themselves, or being educated, about what to do,” he said. Before the programs, there was more confusion about such things as what kind of plastics can be recycled and what kind can’t, he said.
Plastics haven’t been the only problem.
“In the past, we’ve seen in our lines things like old clothes, old shoes, even a bowling ball one time,” Mr. Jett said.
Some residents still dislike the decision to limit curbside recycling.
Linda Chretien, of Hixson, said she wishes city officials would return to weekly curbside collection, or at least f inalize their monthly collection dates.
“We’re tired of trying to guess when they’re coming,” she said. “I know it has discouraged people from recycling. It’s hard to store the recycling in your house for a month.”
She said she doubts the city’s claim of increased participation and savings.
“That doesn’t make sense,” she said. “And so all these people spend their money and gas to make trips to recycle instead of one truck? That does not add, I’m sorry.”
City officials said the dropoff centers also offer residents a method of recycling more than just paper, plastic and aluminum. The centers accept waste oil, small electronics and batteries. In the future, they will accept tube and compact fluorescent bulbs to help keep mercury from entering landfills, officials said.
Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...