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Waste & Recycling February 26, 2018 04:30:51 AM

Rutherford County, TN Prepares for Landfill Closure

Waste Advantage
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The upcoming meeting is the third of a series of forums open to the public. Advisory committee members and consultants who have been commissioned to study Rutherford County’s solid waste situation will map out and present options for the county.
Rutherford County, TN Prepares for Landfill Closure

SEATTLE (Waste Advantage): When you toss your cans, bottles, paper, cardboard, plastic and aluminum into your garbage can, do you ever think about where it ends up? 

As the Middle Point landfill in Rutherford County nears capacity, the need for a community that recycles is becoming more evident.

"It’s convenient to throw things in the trash. But the reality is, we do need to think about (where it goes). It’s not out of sight, out of mind forever. This is something we’re going to have to face in our county now, very soon, when our landfill closes," said Rachel Cornett, an educator and president of Recycle Rutherford, a nonprofit environmental group.

Right now any curbside recycling is done through private companies that charge a monthly fee, around $12 to $14. Residents can collect and drop off their own recycling — free of charge for everything but TVs and computer monitors —  at 15 different convenience centers managed by the Rutherford County Solid Waste department.

While residents don’t pay a fee, Rutherford County Solid Waste Director Mac Nolen said recycling is "far from free." The county pays for the manpower and transportation costs of hauling the recyclables, he said.

However, taxpayers do not have to pay for use of the Middle Point landfill — worth at least $4 million annually — and the county receives approximately $900,000 a year from other counties that use Middle Point, according to figures from the Solid Waste Advisory Committee.

To keep costs as low as possible, the county’s environmental education coordinator Mimi Keisling offered some advice for recycling. 

"When you come to our convenience centers, you want to separate everything properly," Keisling suggested. 

Throwing a metal lid into a bin of glass contaminates the load and increases costs incurred by the county.
"Their intentions are good, but they are creating a hardship for recycling companies," Keisling said. "The goal for recycling is to always conserve our natural resources, but it’s an industry that because it’s a volatile industry due to commodity pricing, you still have to meet your expenses and sometimes it hard to do."

Changes to the recycling options are likely on the horizon, said Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland.
"I don’t think it’s a matter of if, but when," he said."And then we have to figure out a way to pay for it."

At 5 p.m. Tuesday, members of the Rutherford County Solid Waste/Advisory Steering Council, comprised of city and county officials, will meet in the County Commission chamber to focus on specific options.

“We are eager to pinpoint the best way to go forward — the way that best serves our taxpayers. We will prepare by taking steps that are sound, both for the economy and the environment," McFarland said.

The upcoming meeting is the third of a series of forums open to the public. Advisory committee members and consultants who have been commissioned to study Rutherford County’s solid waste situation will map out and present options for the county.

"Last year, 5.75 tons of recycling was diverted from the landfill from Rutherford County Schools alone. It’s encouraging that we can start these practices with younger generations," Cornett said. 

But everyone can recycle because "we have too many options these days … with reusable, compostable and biodegradable (products)," said Cornett.

Courtesy: https://wasteadvantagemag.com

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