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Gallatin joins other Middle Tennessee cities in seeking solutions to landfills reaching capacity

Gallatin joins other Middle Tennessee cities in seeking solutions to landfills reaching capacity

In an annual report released the end of January, the Gallatin Department of Public Works announced its annual figures on solid-waste collection and recycling, which show increases across most categories.

–          13,081 tons of garbage picked up and landfilled (2.72% increase)

–          12,076 customers (3.5% increase) with 14,250 cans being serviced (5.84% increase)

–          2,166.57 pounds per customer of trash generated (0.64% increase)

–          2,593 tons of brush and leaves (18% decrease)

Recycling Totals over Last Year

–          54.8 tons of plastic (43.8% increase)

–          327.7 tons of paper/cardboard (12.4% increase)

–          74.3 tons of glass (30.8% increase)

–          3.6 tons of aluminum (no change from 2017)

“It’s no surprise with more people moving to the area that we would see higher numbers,” said Gallatin Mayor Paige Brown. “We are very pleased that so many are using our recycling center.”

Gallatin continues to support recycling at its drop-off center on Long Hollow Pike. Last year, Gallatin received more than $12,000 in grant funding from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to acquire a cardboard bailer, and the city also recently installed a glass crusher. While materials like cardboard and aluminum generate enough money to cover costs, the city pays to recycle other materials such as paper and plastic.

In 2017 China, the biggest importer of recycled materials in the world, notified the World Trade Organization it would ban imports of 24 varieties of solid waste, including certain types of plastic and unsorted paper commonly sent from the United States. China states contaminants are often mixed with these materials, leading to environmental problems. As a result, millions of tons of recycled materials are being stockpiled, and the price for recycled materials has been driven down to the point where recycling programs across the country are in jeopardy.

“We know many of our residents would like curbside recycling,” said Brown. “We continue to evaluate this service; however, the current market does not make this a good option for Gallatin at this time.”

Gallatin is now participating in the Regional Solid Waste Directors’ Roundtable, a group of municipalities and solid waste authorities from around Middle Tennessee. The goal is to look for ways to maximize lifespan of current landfills and to identify best-practices that will help make solid waste affordable and sustainable. It’s projected that existing landfills in Middle Tennessee will be at capacity within the next decade, so cities working together will offer more leverage in purchasing and planning power than individual cities.

“There’s no question a collaborative effort is better than Gallatin trying to come up with a solution on our own,” said Mayor Brown. “By no means should we give up on recycling, but it shouldn’t be the only tool we have in long-range planning of waste disposal.”

For a copy of the full report:

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