The record-breaking fire in Brazil's Amazon rainforest is an important reminder to conserve our resources. Thankfully, this is a lesson that Dalton has already taken to heart. Last month was a record month for the city of Dalton recycling. Just in July, residents collected 124.8 tons of recycling. That is the highest rate in a month since April 2014!
Recycling is the process of taking a product at the end of its useful life and re-manufacturing it into a new product. Unlike your trash, your recycling is sent to a manufacturer that uses recycled material to make their products. As a result, materials that are recycled help save the energy and water that would have been used to make a product from virgin or raw materials. It also extends to saving the raw materials themselves. Many of those raw materials would be taken from rainforests without recycling.
Logging is the biggest source of steady deforestation. Recycling paper decreases the need for logging. If the entire amount recycled last month was only paper, that would mean Dalton recycled enough paper to conserve 2,122 trees. That is 53 acres of forest! This number of trees can absorb 101,856 pounds of carbon per year. And this is all based on how much Dalton has recycled only in July.
Paper isn’t the only resource gathered from rainforests. Bauxite mining also takes place in these forests. Bauxite is used to create aluminum cans. Unlike other forms of mining, bauxite is found near the surface so instead of digging deep, miners dig wide. This destroys the terrain of the forest and requires removal of all of the trees. Recycling aluminum makes mining bauxite unnecessary. The process of recycling aluminum is incredibly efficient and no material is lost in recycling. As a bonus it takes 95% less energy to create cans from recycled aluminum as opposed to virgin bauxite.
The recycling for the city starts at your curb. Only about half of Dalton’s households recycle, which means that only 50% of our possible recycling is being collected. Besides having a green garbage cart for household trash, residents should have one to three blue recycling bins. If you have a garbage cart but no recycling bin, call public works at (706) 278-7077 to arrange delivery. The pickup date for recyclables and household trash is the same.
Inside the blue bins, multiple types of items can be recycled. Residents can recycle paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum, bi-metal cans and plastic jugs and bottles. It is fine to leave the labels and lids on containers inside the bin, but there are some important rules to make sure that your item ends up at the recycling center.
Items that cannot be accepted for recycling include any soiled items or waxed paper and cardboard. Make sure that any materials put into your recycling bin are clean and contain no food residue. When the materials are mixed together for the process of recycling, food waste from one container can contaminate the other materials and cause problems such as mold or bacteria as they are stored before recycling. Beginning Oct. 1, glass will no longer be accepted in the blue bins. You can save it up and bring it to any convenience center to continue safely recycling the material.
You can also bring your discarded cellphones to be recycled at the Old Dixie Highway Convenience Center. The precious metals, such as gold, found in phones are often mined from rainforests. By recycling your phone, you can help decrease the amount of mining needed.
Whether you are placing your recycling in a blue bin or toting it to a convenience center, the aluminum, paper, cardboard and even electronics help preserve rainforests thousands of miles away from the comfort of your hometown.
Amy Hartline is the recycling and education program coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority. Have a recycling question? Contact her at (706) 278-5001 or at email@example.com.