BY SARAH R. GREGORY
Recycling plastic will soon be a much simpler process for Greeneville and Greene County residents with the placement of collection bins at various locations for pick-up by the town's Public Works Department.
Beginning Monday, Jan. 6, empty containers containing PET No. 1 and HDPE No. 2 plastic can be placed in bins in Greeneville located next to existing recycling bins for newspaper and cardboard.
The town is urging citizens in both Greeneville and Greene County as a whole to take advantage of the plastic- and paper-recycling options as a means to save space in landfills and reduce solid waste disposal fees incurred by the town and county.
In September, the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen was approached by Jennifer Reynolds of Keep Greene Beautiful because the Greene County government stopped transporting plastic for recycling in August.
Greene County Solid Waste Director Hubert Metcalf said at that time that the stoppage was temporary due to a drop in the price of plastic, and that collection bins at the county's convenience centers would remain in place.
Metcalf said recently that the county hopes to begin transporting the materials again after the start of the new year if the price of plastic rises enough to cover fuel costs.
In September, Reynolds said she was concerned that local residents inside and outside the city limits who were accustomed to separating plastics and transporting them to the county's convenience centers would, essentially, get out of the habit of doing so.
Placing bins in town for transport by the town's Public Works Department, Reynolds said, would not only provide a place for Greene County residents already accustomed to recycling to take their materials, but also encourage Greeneville residents to separate plastic from other household trash.
Aldermen were supportive of the idea in September, but did not take official action on the request.
However, Mayor W.T. Daniels encouraged Reynolds to continue working with Public Works Director Brad Peters on logistics for the service.
Reynolds told The Greeneville Sun early Monday that she is glad the town has placed the plastic recycling bins.
"I'm very excited that plastic recycling has started back up again. I'm appreciative to the Town of Greeneville for going a step beyond in getting this started again by purchasing the bins," she said.
TWO PLASTICS ACCEPTED
The bins will accept two types of plastic containers -- PET No. 1 and HDPE No. 2.
PET No. 1 plastic can be found in items such as soft drink and water bottles, mouthwash bottles, peanut butter jars, salad dressing bottles and vegetable oil bottles.
HDPE No. 2 plastic can be found in items such as milk jugs, juice bottles, bleach detergent and other household cleaner bottles, shopping bags, butter tubs, yogurt tubs and cereal box liners.
Those wishing to recycle such materials are asked to check the bottom of each container for a numeral identifying the type of plastic as 1 or 2.
Other types of plastic containers not listed above could also be PET No. 1 or HDPE No. 2, and are therefore recyclable.
Bins for collecting plastic recyclables can be found at the following locations:
* Greene County Farmer's Co-Op, at 1414 W. Main St.;
* Hal Henard Elementary School, at 425 E. Vann Road;
* The Greene County Partnership, at 115 Academy St.;
* EastView Parks and Recreation Center, at 456 E. Bernard Ave.;
* Big Lots parking lot, at 1505 E. Andrew Johnson Hwy.;
* Hal Henard Road Convenience Center, at 815 Hal Henard Road.; and,
* Afton Convenience Center, at 95 American Road.
The bins are located near existing containers for newspaper and cardboard.
Greeneville and Greene County residents are urged to utilize the existing cardboard- and paper-recycling containers in addition to the new plastic recycling bins.
Recycling such materials saves landfill space and reduces the town and county's disposal fees, which currently exceed $36 per ton, according to a news release from the Public Works Department.
Peters says the department will have a truck dedicated to plastic recycling and will add a plastic route to the current collection routes for garbage, cardboard and paper.
DRIVEN BY PARTICIPATION
Plastic will be taken to Goodwill Industries, in Russellville, for processing.
How often such runs are made will depend on the public's participation, as the truck will make the trip to Russellville only when it is full.
Peters said the truck holds approximately two tons of material, and, based on the number of containers, the department estimates it will make the trip once every other week.
Revenue from the recycled plastic is expected to cover expenses of collecting it and transporting it to the recycling facility, Peters said.
Paper and cardboard can also be recycled by the Russellville-based Goodwill Industries, but the Public Works Department generally takes those products to locally-based Greeneville Iron and Metal for processing.
"Through the first five months of this fiscal year, we have sold over $21,000 worth of cardboard and paper, thanks to the businesses and citizens who use our service," Peters said.
"The Town of Greeneville realizes that we have a responsibility not only to the environment, but to our taxpayers, to collect and dispose of solid waste in the most efficient way possible.
"As recycling technology continues to advance, the Town of Greeneville seeks to be a leader in this field," he added.
An estimate for how much revenue plastic recycling is expected to generate is unknown, since the process is driven by public participation.