Being new to recycling, I have lots to learn. I rely on 311 and the attendants at the neighborhood collection centers to assist in building my knowledge.
Recently, I had an experience that makes me reconsidered my recycling efforts. I loaded up my car, called 311 to verify what I could take, only to be blocked by the attendant at my neighborhood collection center. The 311 operator said yes to my items, including grocery store bags marked #2. But once I got the to collection center, the attendant eagle eyed my items, and refused to allow me to place some of them in the bins, claiming those items were not allowed.
When I returned home, I searched the Chattanooga.gov website under the recycling program, to verify what was allowed or not. Items allowed were vague, and even more vague, what was not allowed. I even dialed 311 and complained, and asked for further clarification of allowed items. Sadly I was told grocery store bags are not allowed, nor plastic disposable drink cups marked #6 (curbside).
To my understanding, neighborhood collection centers have different allowable items than does curbside collection. It appears curbside for plastics is #'s 1-7, and collection centers are only #'s 1 and 2.
Other than the 'normal' items, I want to recycle my plastic grocery store bags and plastic drink cups. When I called 311 and queried what the deal was with the grocery store bags, I was informed, they are not allowed, period. I even told the operator I verified grocery store bags were allowed, and was informed no they were not. I even went as far as to tell the operator of a TFP article stating they were allowed in curbside from 2.9.2012 paragraph 4, along with a sidebar notation.
This makes me wonder, why if I place appropriately marked items in my curbside recycle bin, why they will be just tossed in the trash. Doesn't this defeat the purpose of recycling? I can as easily toss these in the trash myself. To me, as I am sure many others, items marked with the appropriate recycle number, should be allowed. After all, isn't an item marked #6 or #2, the same as any other items marked the same?
In the coming future, the city of Chattanooga will demand every city residence to recycle, if not, be subject to fines. Perhaps the city of Chattanooga should update their online data to reflect what is not allowed. Simply marking allowed recycle numbers is not accurate, apparently.
Rene A. Wood
* * *
The city of Chattanooga collects at your curbside every two weeks (if you live inside the city limits). Many (most?) recycle centers are operated by Hamilton County. The city and the county have different requirements. 311 is operated by Chattanooga for the city's programs. They wouldn't be able to tell you about Hamilton county's rules. It's pretty simple, really.
Of course it'd be simpler if we had one metro government and one recycle agency, but that'd make too much sense.
* * *
As far as I know in the last seven years or so the city has never taken any plastic other than Type 1 and 2 with a closed neck.
Nor have they taken grocery bags. However many stores do. Food Lion did as well as Bi-LO. Not sure about Wal-Mart or Publix but you could check.
Also I believe the city runs the collection centers within the limits.