Chattanooga accepting all plastics for recycling

Chattanooga accepting all plastics for recycling

February 9th, 2012 by Cliff Hightower in News

Robert Smith, driver, stops the truck as Kenneth Trammell, crew worker, services a residence in Alton Park using one of the city of Chattanooga's recycling trucks in this file photo.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.


Items that will now be included in plastic recycling include:

* Plastic grocery bags and cling wrap

* Plastic forks and knives

* Detergent and soap bottles

* Ketchup or mustard bottles

* PVC plumbing pipe

* Styrofoam and plastic plates

* Antifreeze containers

Source: City of Chattanooga

Barbara Ensign and her family are avid recyclers. Sorting what plastics go into the trash and what goes into recycling has turned into a family activity, she said.

Now, the Ensigns and other Chattanooga families will have less plastic to toss.

City officials this week said all plastics, not just soda bottles and milk jugs, can be put at the curb for recycling.

Ensign said she is excited that plastic grocery bags can now go into the recycling bin. "That's great," said Ensign, who lives in North Chattanooga. "Then I won't feel so bad for taking them."

Justin Holland, the city's sanitation manager, said Wednesday the city would start picking up plastics No. 1 to No. 7. Previously, the program only took plastics No. 1 and No. 2.

The program starts immediately, he said.

The entire city has actually been in a pilot program for the new plastic recycling over the last seven months, he said, but city officials decided to make it permanent.

The curbside recycling program started in 1995 and has undergone several changes over the years. The biweekly service is free for any city resident who signs up for it.

Holland said some changes within the recycling market led to the change, but he warned there are a few items that still should be thrown away. He said look for the recycling symbol stamped on the bottle or container.

"There are some plastics that aren't stamped and not recyclable," he said.

The city delivers all the products it picks up to the Orange Grove Center, which then sells it to companies looking for materials to recycle.

Tera Roberts, director of adult services at the Orange Grove Center, said there are some major changes within the recycling industry allowing her organization to be able to sell more plastics.

"The markets have just gotten better," she said.

She said Orange Grove reconfigured its plant and is now using a different strategy on how it takes in materials. In the past, workers would pick out the good stuff and let the rest go in the trash, she said, but now the process is completely reversed.

"We were picking off the good stuff," she said. "Now we're picking off the bad stuff."

She encouraged recyclers to go ahead and put any and all plastics in the curbside recycling bin and the sorters at Orange Grove Center will handle the rest.

"We're trying to make is user friendly," she said.

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