Macon-Bibb government tackles issue of recycling

The newly established Macon-Bibb consolidated government is hoping to create a unified recycling program to help the environment, extend the landfill’s life and contribute to meeting federal and state waste-management standards.
The city of Macon is currently in charge of handling its own garbage collection and landfill.
The county’s trash, on the other hand, is controlled by a contracted company and sends its waste to Twiggs County.
The Bibb County Residential Solid Waste Collection service, provided through contractor Southland Waste Systems, picks up household garbage, recyclables and yard waste, according to the county website. Both county governments offer some recycling plans and give recycling bins to the residents who desire them.
However, the level of service, collecting process and policies differ between areas.
The city of Macon collects paper, cardboard, plastic bottles and aluminum or steel cans, but it does not take glass, plastic bags, polystyrene or aluminum foil.
Therefore, the new government contemplates the idea of combining existing government workers and services but also creating an entirely new recycling program.
Task force members think the decision will be on whether to expand city trash collection, subcontract it countywide or keep some kind of combination.
The new recycling plan would include an expansion of the current recycling program and is looking to be included as a service offered to the public.
Public Works director Richard Powell told the Macon Telegraph it would take four more trucks and a dozen new employees to expand the city’s recycling program countywide, plus the purchase of more recycling carts.
Powell also said a full time recycling program would help benefit the Macon city landfill, which has an estimated nine years of use left.
However, community participation and education are key factors in making the new program work.
Voluntary recycling participation has been fairly constant during the years it has been offered, but it is still not universal.
The city and county alike have a great need to dispose locally of biodegradable yard waste, Powell said to the Telegraph.
Right now, the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful Inc., is helping the city of Macon to improve the quality of life with recycling campaigns, as well as collection and littering prevention.
Several other groups have proposed more recycling or other waste-management options to the city.
Some companies have offered to take control of and expand the recycling program, but no decisions have been made yet.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promotes recycling.
The EPA says that recycling not only improves communities but also conserves natural resources, prevents pollution, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps create new well-paying jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries in the U.S.
Over the next few months, the Macon task forces will have a series of public meetings to help decide what services residents want and will discuss how to improve quality of life in the Macon-Bibb County area.