With mounds of aluminum cans, newspaper and plastic awaiting recycling in a facility off Victory Drive, Columbus City Manager Isaiah Hugley said the operation was much bigger than what was visible inside the building.
“Recycling is bigger than the operation you see here. We’ve got a landfill,” Hugley said Friday. “If we didn’t have this operation, this material as you see it would be dumped in the landfill.”
Hugley joined 40 other city and regional recycling officials for the grand opening of the city’s new recycling center at 25 22nd Ave. The center has been processing paper, plastic, metal cans, glass and other recyclable items since it opened July 1.Hugley said the Pine Grove Landfill off Schatulga Road still has 26-30 years of life left but that space could be extended through the recycling program.
“Through recycling, we have the opportunity to increase the life of the landfill,” he said. “It could last longer if we don’t put all this in the landfill.”
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Recycling has been available to some 42,000 Columbus households since 1994 but continuing the service was in jeopardy this year when Goodwill Industries decided to stop processing items collected at the curb. A year ago, prices for recyclable items fell so low it was costing Goodwill to provide the service.
To keep the program going, the city spent $168,000 on equipment and personnel to get the operation up and running. Two city employees and six Muscogee County Prison inmates operate the center which already is at capacity.
Gary Stickles, director of Public Services, said the city is looking to expand recycling on 33 acres off Schatulga Road. In addition to recycling, services could include composting, he said.