On Monday, January 10, 2022, Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful began checking curbside recycling bins for contaminants and distributing door hangers with recycling information. The campaign, called “Door to Door: Recycle More!,” is a program developed for the city by Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful and Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority, with input from the City of Dalton Public Works, to help increase Dalton’s waste diversion rate and decrease contamination.
The City of Dalton’s waste diversion rate hovers around eight percent. This means that the city only diverts about nine percent of its’ waste from the landfill to the recycling center. “We’d like to try and hit closer to 15 percent of our waste being diverted because this will let us extend the life of the landfill and keep these materials useful in our supply chain,” said Amy Hartline, recycling education coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority.
All of the city curbside bins are sorted by hand at the curb and employees leave contaminants in the bins. This campaign aims to help decrease the time spent sorting through these materials. A government employee will be doing a random sampling of bins checking for contaminants and calculating the average contamination rate for the city curbside recycling program. Common contaminants found in the recycling bins include plastic tubs, food waste, and flexible plastic.
The chemical makeup and shape can make many items that appear recyclable not accepted in the Materials Recover Facility or recycling center. For example, plastic bags are a detriment to the equipment in traditional recycling centers, but special facilities are able to accept and recycle them. This is why you can’t put your grocery bags in the curbside bins, but can take them back to the grocery store and put them in special drop-off collection boxes.
After the data has been compiled for the city contamination rate, volunteers with Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful will visit pre-determined routes to distribute bilingual door hangers that will help residents learn about their access to free curbside recycling service and help decrease contamination. Residents can recycle plastic bottles and jugs, paperboard boxes, bimetal cans, aluminum cans, flattened cardboard boxes, and paper in their bins. Items such as plastic wrappers, Styrofoam, and plastic cups however should go in the provided garbage can.
"Door to Door: Recycle More! will help create a recycling program in the City of Dalton that is more efficient, clean and allows more resources to be recycled," officials said. "Having every Dalton citizen choose to embrace the free recycling that Dalton Public Works offers and using it correctly will help the city stand out in the southeast as a sustainable community committed to creating a healthier planet and a robust recycling market."
For more information or to volunteer on this project, visit keepdaltonwhitfieldbeautiful.org or call 706-226-6211.