CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The renewal of plastic recycling in Bradley County two years ago seems to be booming, according to county and waste management officials.
"The program is working really well," said Dan Howell, executive assistant to Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis. "The less plastic we put in our landfill, the more money we save."
Bradley County recycled 39 tons of plastic in 2011, Howell said. That number triples figures presented a year ago.
Last May it was reported that the county processed about a ton of plastic each month, according to Cheryl Dunson, vice president of marketing for Santek Environmental, the company that runs the county landfill.
The plastic recycling program formerly was limited to plastic types No. 1 and No. 2, typically represented by soda bottles and milk jugs.
In November, the county expanded its plastic recycling program to include plastic types No. 3 through No. 7, which Davis said was "pretty much everything except plastic bags."
While the county earns a little money back from its partnership with RockTenn, the company that transports and sorts materials from the county's three recycling centers, it is mostly a financial wash, Howell said.
He said the big money can be found in the long run by deferring the need for a new county landfill, which can cost taxpayers millions of dollars and could take up to five years to build.
Bradley County officials said plastic recycling is not the only solid waste management success.
According to the Bradley County mayor's office, the county recycling centers also accepted 5.8 tons of aluminum, 64 tons of glass, 142 tons of cardboard and 472 tons of mixed paper in 2011.
The county also recycled 5 tons of electronics, 12 tons of white goods, 58,148 tires and 10,095 gallons of oil.
Davis praised the participation of county residents in the recycling programs.
"There are several elements involved in managing the county's solid waste stream. One of the most important is our recycling program," Davis said.
According to the release, the landfill -- which added five acres last year -- is projected to last another 46 years.