Last month, we went back to basics about what can and cannot be recycled. The impact of even Dalton’s curbside recycling in 2019 shows us what can be accomplished when we have a good understanding of how and why we recycle.

In 2019, the City of Dalton Public Works Department collected 2,402,520 pounds of recyclables as part of their Curbside Recycling Program. Little by little, bottle by bottle, Dalton residents helped keep waste out of the landfill and created new products through recycling. Their combined efforts saved 2,002 cubic yards of landfill space which aids in extending the life of the Old Dixie Highway landfill in Whitfield County.

This means 92 garbage trucks full were diverted from the landfill! If only paper had been collected, the 1,201 tons would save 20,421 trees in 2019.

When you put something in your blue bin to be recycled instead of throwing it away it is sent to manufacturers that use recycled material to make their products. This helps conserve our natural resources and can save energy in production. If you recycled one aluminum can, it could save enough energy to run your TV for almost three hours.

The curbside recycling program began in 1991 and continues today thanks to the City of Dalton Public Works Department. The program is entirely voluntary for residents of Dalton. To receive a blue bin for recycling pickup, call public works at (706) 278-7077. You may request up to three recycling bins for free depending on the size of your household.

The blue bins are picked up once a week by the curbside recycling team. They sort and separate each item in the blue bins by hand and deposit into various compartments in the collection truck. The drivers handle more than 4,000 blue bins each week. It is through their work that Dalton was able to recycle 1,201.26 tons in 2019.

Inside the blue bins, multiple types of items can be recycled. Residents can recycle paper, cardboard, 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.

The process of recycling paper includes mixing the paper in a big tub of water and chemicals to turn the paper into slurry. The oil and fat from food residue won’t mix with the water. It instead mixes with the slurry used to form new paper. This makes the paper extremely low quality and, therefore, unusable.

To make the process easier, you do not have to separate your recycling into different bins before it is picked up, but there are good and bad ways to pack your bin. If you only have one bin, place all of the paper on the bottom and containers on top. Avoid littering your street by overloading the bin which can be helped by crushing plastic and aluminum containers and breaking down or flattening boxes.

Recycling instructions are available online at the City of Dalton website at www.cityofdalton-ga.gov. Click on Departments, then Public Works and Recycling Instructions to watch instructional videos and download the one-page recycling guide. Through this program, the City of Dalton is improving the community and the world by saving landfill space and natural resources.

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 ahartline@dwswa.org.

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