In a press conference, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed hopes that an effort to expand the curbside recycling program in Atlanta makes not only the city of Atlanta greener but transforms the state of Georgia into the leading state in the nation with the smallest carbon footprint.
Currently, Atlanta residents who opt to participate in the recycling program have an 18-gallon bin that they use for their recyclable which gets picked up along with their curbside trash cans.
The expanded recycling program will include replacing the 18-gallon bins with 96-gallon carts.
"One of my goals as mayor is to see Atlanta become a top tier city for sustainability," said Mayor Reed at the press conference. "Recycling is an important step towards that goal, as we make Atlanta a greener place to live, work and play. Rolling out these new large capacity recycling carts will make it easier for residents to recycle more."
Beginning Oct. 15, the city of Atlanta will deliver these larger capacity recycling carts to more than 65,000 households.
The city's long-term goal to keep 90 percent of municipal wastes out of landfills by 2020 is part of Atlanta's "Power to Change" sustainability plan.
Atlanta resident Holly Androzzo said she took advantage of a larger recycling cart when it was offered to her three years ago.
"I didn't realize that it wasn't offered to everyone [at the time], but those small recycling bins barely hold anything," said Androzzo. "And I find that I always have more stuff in my recycling cart than actual trash in the trash cart."
Currently, only a small fraction - 37 percent, of Atlanta residents recycle, with most waste products end up in the landfills. Atlanta residents generate 96,000 tons of trash per year, which costs the city $7 million.
Aside from the environmental benefits of increasing recycling levels, city officials said that boosting the collection of recyclables produces revenue for the city at a rate of $30 per ton.
"The bins eliminated all the excuses that have been used about recycling," said Reed referring to the most common reason why people don't recycle: It's inconvenient. I don't know what to separate, what to put in, what to put out.
All types of recyclables can be placed into the new carts with no sorting required. Also not required is washing or rinsing the recyclables before placing them in the carts.
Locally, in Covington and Newton County, residents can also join the green movement by recycling rather than just throwing out trash and adding to the landfills.
Newton County residents can recycle on a voluntary basis and the curbside pickup is also free. Curbside pickup does not require sorting, washing or rinsing.
The city of Covington provides a 95-gallon trash container to each residential unit served. Recyclables are collected on the same day as garbage and trash. A recycle bin is provided to each resident. Items collected include plastic, glass, aluminum and tin cans, newspapers and magazines.
Residents can also opt to dispose of recycling at neighborhood recycling centers. There are 11 different neighborhood recycling center locations throughout Newton County, with varying days and hours of operation.
Recycling in Covington and Newton County is purely voluntary; however, residents are asked to recycle to help our community reduce the amount of trash and waste going into our landfill.
Since 1990, local residents have helped reduced waste going into the Newton County landfill by almost 40 percent.
For more information, call Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful at (770) 784-2015 or the Covington Recycling Center at (770) 385-2064 or visit co.newton.ga.us/content/view/116/31/.