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Grants, compactors, recycling make for savings in Solid Waste

Approximately $60,000 in landfill disposal fees has been saved since Washington County’s contract with Waste Management went into effect July 1.
Efforts toward additional savings by reducing the amount taken to the landfill through recycling efforts were discussed during the Oct. 7 meeting of the county’s Solid Waste Committee.
Director Charles Baines said Washington County saw a decrease of 243 tons of solid waste taken to Iris Glen landfill in Johnson City during September compared to the prior month.
Increasing the number of tons per haul also saves on transportation costs.
Baines said the county’s first refurbished compactor was recently installed at the Lamar Convenience Center and is working well.
Rather than buying new compactors at a price of $35,000 each, three current compactors are being refurbished at a cost of $14,000-$15,000.
“We’re having another one refurbished that we will probably take to Gray, and a third one to Cash Hollow,” Baines said, adding Cash Hollow continues to receive the largest amount of material because so much comes from Johnson City.
Washington County is one of the seven counties in the state producing the largest amount of waste, a measure determined by total landfill deposits at Iris Glen regardless of the source.
As a result, the county is eligible for an $8,000 Recycling Rebate Grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
Those funds will be used to purchase 50 bundles of bailing wire and 300 additional plastic tote recycling containers to be used in the school classrooms, Baines said.
The grant requires a 50 percent match, and Solid Waste Committee members voted to recommend the Budget Committee approve taking money for the match from the Solid Waste fund balance.
Baines also applied for a TDEC Waste Oil Grant of $8,500 to purchase a new waste oil heater for the recycling center at Gray where 7,000 gallons of oil were recycled last year, causing the heater to wear out.
“The grant isn’t guaranteed, but with our track record, we have a good chance,” he added.
The grant requires no match.
While TDEC guidelines restrict counties that receive the recycling rebate from applying for additional grants other than the Waste Oil Grant, Baines has received earlier grants for the Solid Waste Department that paid for a new forklift, a bailer and a skid steer loader.
Items from the recycling centers also provide income.
“We sell just about everything we can from recycling,” Baines told committee members. “There is a market for all (items), but the prices fluctuate.”
Baines said the price is up now, but Washington County is not getting the same volume it once was because people are selling the recyclables themselves.
“Six years ago, we were making enough from selling metal to pay all the employees,” he said.
Adjustments have been made to personnel in response to the lower number of tires being recycled through the county.
The tire center is now open only two days a week rather than five. Telephone, fax and Internet services were canceled, and one of the full-time employees was moved to the Solid Waste Department office in the courthouse. The other full-time employee was laid off.
According to Baines, the process is running smoothly with the two part-time employees coming in to provide service on the days the center is open. The center is still open the first Saturday of the month for the public.