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Recycling: What it Means for the Environment and the Economy

Recycling: What it Means for the Environment and the Economy

Auburn, Alabama — Recycling is the process of converting waste products into reusable materials. This process allows products to be used to their fullest extent.

How Does the Recycling Process Work?

In Bibb and Chilton counties in Alabama, typical recyclable materials include cardboard boxes, office paper, newspapers, magazines, books, metal food cans, aluminum cans, #1 plastic containers (soft drink bottles) and #2 plastic containers (milk bottles, detergent bottles, etc.). These are all popular recyclable items. Newspapers account for the greatest quantity collected in the two counties based on weight.

There are three main steps in the Bibb-Chilton recycling process: collection and processing, manufacturing and purchasing products from recycled material. Matthew Hartzell, a Bibb County Extension coordinator for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, explains the process in his county.

“In Bibb and Chilton counties, there are 14 large blue bins located throughout those counties that citizens can deposit recyclable materials into,” said Hartzell. “Containers full of recyclable material are picked up by Bibb Correctional Facility officers and transported to that facility in Brent, where the recyclable materials are sorted and loaded by inmates onto a tractor trailer destined for Elmore Correctional Facility near Montgomery. There, the recyclable materials are baled and sold to private sector businesses who convert the recyclable materials into new materials.”

What Does this Mean for the Environment and Economy?

As for the environment, Hartzell says that recycling reduces the amount of waste going into landfills. Recycling is able to reduce the pollution caused by harmful chemicals and gases released from landfill waste. It also saves energy and conserves landfill space.

Recycling is also good for the economy. The more materials recycled, the more jobs created.

“Recycling has reduced the amounts of landfill tipping fees that local governments in Bibb and Chilton counties have paid to landfills since the program’s inception in 2013,” Hartzell said. “Sales from recycled materials collected also generate revenue for the Alabama Department of Corrections.”

On the other hand, recycling can also have negative effects. It can be labor and cost intensive. This is one of the main reasons why the private sector has not succeeded in the recycling business in the rural areas of Alabama.

“Educating people why they should recycle and getting them to do so can be difficult to accomplish,” Hartzell said. “Some people believe that when a waste collector empties a container and hauls their waste away, the waste is no longer their problem, so why bother?”

Recycling is easier than it may seem in any community. Make it a point to separate cardboard, cans and bottles, and then place them into recycling bins. Find out more on how to recycle here.

 

Featured image by picserver.org.

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