Originally created 07/31/98

Recycling -- finally! 073198 - The Augusta Chronicle

Has Augusta finally found a new recycling program that will be effective?

After a disastrous year for the city and its residents, which included the death of the old recycling program, it is past time for a new plan to be implemented.

A new curbside recycling program, approved in June, could be the answer -- if managed properly. According to Public Works official Mike Greene, an existing garbage hauler will pick up clear glass, newspaper/cardboard and aluminum from residents in the urban district.

A positive for the city is that the hauler will receive the recycling revenue, so it won't gouge the city or its residents for pickup.

Previous programs were just one inconvenience after another.

The blue bag program that provided curbside recycling to the urban district suffered a slow and painful death this past spring. Its cost to the city exceeded its benefits to the community. When examined closely, however, the blue bag program's main failure was lack of communication -- not telling residents where they could get the bags when they ran out. There was also a lack of commitment by residents who stopped recycling once they ran out of bags and didn't know where to get new ones.

Drop-off centers were another approach, but they have their own problems. The centers only accept aluminum, clear glass, cardboard and newspapers. But have you looked into one of those bins? Plastic, colored glass, tin and other materials are mixed in with the acceptable materials!

The new program will not remove all of these problems, but it has got to be better.

The city is providing recycling bins, which is a solution to the previous blue bag shortage, and curbside pickup will be more convenient than using drop-off centers for many residents. These improvements should lead to more diligent recycling.

As for what is collected, Greene says that is limited by market demand. So the list probably won't change any time soon.

In other Georgia cities, the list of recyclable materials includes anything from junk mail to textiles, steel cans to juice boxes. Some municipalities collect objects as odd as doorknobs, toasters and metal hangers for recycling. Augusta needs to move beyond the limited items it recycles to a more realistic list that includes, at least, plastic, colored glass, and tin cans.

In any event, Augusta must never again end recycling.

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