Alabama reaches 28-year-old recycling goal; Dothan not there yet

(WTVY News 4)
Published: Jun. 18, 2019 at 11:44 PM CDT
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Reduce, reuse and recycle - three words the State of Alabama has been trying to incorporate in waste disposal.

The state has just reached an important milestone – the Alabama Department of Environmental Management announced 25% of all trash was kept out of landfills in 2018.

The state set the goal of having a quarter of all trash diverted way back in 1991.

It's still a little below the national average of 34%, but it's a step in the right direction.

"I recycle because the landfills are filling up, and if we can recycle to keep it out of the landfill, I think that's what we should be doing,” said Brenda Sorrells, who uses the Westgate Recycling Center.

Brenda Sorrells lives in Hartford, which doesn't have a recycling program.

So anytime she makes the trip to Dothan, she brings her bottles, cans and cardboard boxes along.

The city closed the two recycling centers for a few months because they were getting too much trash without the man power to sort out the recycling.

They re-opened in March, with a supervisor on site to screen the trash being thrown in.

"I love the way they've got this organized now,” said Sorrells. “It used to be chaos and awful, but this is really a good system they have."

But is the system working?

"What we're sending them is 90-95 percent clean, so that 5 percent of contamination is pretty good in this industry, especially collecting a curbside product like we do," said Dothan Environmental Services Manager Steven Burgess.

Alabama now averages 25% total diversion with 16% direct recycling, but Burgess says Dothan is well beneath that.

"We still hover around 12%,” said Burgess. “We're hoping since we've changed our method of collection that we can update next year and get a better number."

He said the plan is to do more community outreach and get into the schools to get more households participating in recycling.

Right now, only 9.000 out of 26,000 homes in the city have recycling bins.

"Just trying to help the environment,” said Ashley McGee, who uses the Westgate Recycling Center. “It's convenient and easy. I live close by so it's really easy to drop stuff of."

Burgess said the two recycling centers on the West and East sides of the city were placed there strategically to cater to the nearby apartment complexes that don't offer recycling.

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