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Takes green to go green
Center for recycling hit by economy
1 Recycling pic 1
Sandy Long brings items to be recycled each week at the Dawson County Recycling Center because, “You can’t put a price on the Earth.” Due to market conditions, however, the center is only accepting aluminum, metals, newsprint, office paper, mail and magazines. - photo by Photo/Elizabeth Hamilton

In another sign of the sluggish economy, the Dawson County Recycling Center can no longer accept glass, plastics and paperboard materials.


The decision, which officials hope is temporary, stems from a downturn in the recyclable materials market. It also has the county exploring options to remedy the situation.


“At present we can only accept newsprint, office paper, mail and magazines in our paper bin at the recycling center,” said Cathy Brooks, a county community affairs representative.


“We cannot accept paperboard materials including such items as cereal boxes, corrugated cardboard, brown paper bags or anything that doesn’t have a white paper base.”


Dawson County Manager Kevin Tanner said the site also will still accept aluminum and metals.


Brooks said many of the manufacturers that once bought recycled materials, such as plastics and cardboard, have scaled back production.


For example, carpet manufacturers would buy recycled plastic from a recycling company in order to make carpet. But carpet sales have slowed along with the housing market and building industry.


With the dip in manufacturing, there is less need for cardboard packaging and shipping.


“Recycling companies have been forced to make adjustments in the materials they are able to accept in an effort to remain in business,” Brooks said. “This has affected Dawson County’s recycling partners as well.”


The county has no plans to remove the recycling center, transfer station or anyone that is employed there.


“We are not looking to scale back our transfer station in any way,” Brooks said.

In fact, the county is looking into a new deal that would allow residents to continue recycling.


“If there is no market for the recyclables and our partners can’t accept them, we have to look at other methods,” Tanner said.


At a Dec. 22 work session, Tanner presented the Dawson County Board of Commissioners with a proposal from Community Waste Services, which provides recycling for the cities of Milton, Roswell and Sandy Springs.


The new agreement proposes a comprehensive recycling plan incorporating single-stream recycling. Residents would no longer have to separate recyclable items into different bins.


The proposed setup would also allow the county to accept a wider range of plastics (one through seven) and grocery bags.


If the board approves the plan at its Jan. 8  meeting, all acceptable recyclable materials could be placed in the same compactor at the transfer station.


The compactor would then crush the materials into tight, small bails that Community Waste Services could take to another location to be separated and sold.


“We have been satisfied with our agreement and services that we have received from North Georgia Resource Management Authority and Lumpkin County,” Brooks said. “It is because of the economy that we are having to explore some alternatives.”  


Tanner said the proposal to work with Community Waste Systems could save the county about $19,500 in recycling costs in 2009.


The county originally estimated and budgeted to spend $38,000 in recycling in 2009.


“The CWS agreement will allow us to have no cost of recycling other than the initial cost of the compactor,” he said.


Added Brooks: “We will find an alternative for this situation, whether the proposed agreement passes or not.”


E-mail Elizabeth Hamilton at