THOMASVILLE — In 2018, a little more than half of items left at the City of Thomasville’s two recycling centers were actually recyclable.
Numbers provided by Jimmy Smith Jr., city solid waste and landfill superintendent, show 867 tons, or 1,734,000 pounds, were left at the centers. Of that, 511 tons, or 1,022,000 pounds, were recyclable.
Actual recycled items were 58.94 percent of what was deposited at recycling centers on West Remington Avenue and behind the Remington Avenue fire station.
Items that have nothing to do with city recycling efforts — clothing, tires and bagged household garbage, among other things — have been left in recycling bins and on the ground at the centers.
Addressing and encouraging recycling in the community are among the functions of Keep Thomas County Beautiful (KTCB).
Part of KTCB’s mission is to improve recycling, said Julie Murphree, KTCB executive director.
“It’s important to look for ways to reduce and reuse before recycling, However, recycling is an integral part of the process,” Murphree told Thomasville City Council. “Contamination is one of the leading causes for recycling to have to go to the landfill. Food wastes and other inappropriate items can contaminate and ruin an entire bin.”
KTCB will schedule a public forum-type meeting in October to discuss recycling. A date and location will be announced.
Murphree plans to set up a meeting arrangement in which those attending would sit in a round table formation and participate in the discussion.
Smith is a member of the KTCB board and would participate in the meeting.
Murphree and KTCB board Chairman Sally Bowman expressed personal opinions about manning city recycling sites. Both think someone posted at the centers would enhance the city’s recycling program..
At this time, manned recycling centers are not budgeted, Smith said.
Manned centers would reduce illegal dumping and contamination at the sites, Bowman said.
“It’s not uncommon to see a mattress or piece of furniture there,” Murphree said.
Bowman said KTCB tries to partner with the city and other local non-profits, such as Hands On Thomas County, to improve the recycling centers.
“In the past year or two, our board members and volunteers have cleaned, repainted and replanted greenscapes at the downtown recycling center,” Bowman said.
KTCB tries to educate the public about what is recyclable and what happens when recycling bins are contaminated, Bowman added.
“The city can only do so much. If the public puts glass or plastic bags in a bin, for instance, that bin is contaminated and cannot be recycled,” she said. “Roughly 41 percent of what was put in recycling bins had to be taken to the landfill last year. That’s far too much, but with the state of recycling globally, the city can’t sell contaminated recycling. We, as a community, can do better. Education goes a long way in reducing our recycling contamination rate.”
Murphree would like to see improvements at the Davenport Drive facility where collected recycling is taken to be sorted, baled and bundled for delivery to materials buyers. Overhead covering and better storage is needed, she said.
The majority of employees at the facility are temporary personnel, Murphree said. She suggested that full- or part-time employees be hired so they can become knowledgable about their job and have an opportunity to become engaged in what they are doing.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820