Recycling as a means to help save the environment is a common theme, one Washington County is turning a profit on.
In his annual report, Washington County Solid Waste Director Charles Baines said total revenue from the sale of recycled materials came in at $151,528.84 last year, while the net savings of the tipping fee amounted to $96,224.66, putting the county's total savings at $247,753.50.
Baines said he contributes most of the savings and revenue to the county's convenience centers.
"I've been here since '01, and we've improved every year," he said. "We figured that with curb side pickup we'd probably be in the hole, but when you've got people dropping off recycling, you can make a little profit."
The county's investment in its convenience centers is another part of the payoff.
"It would have cost over $96,000 just to take all of it to a landfill, instead of selling it for $151,528.84," Baines said.
"And we've had a fairly easy time selling it. There are a lot of local places you can take paper and metal. Plus, it's closer for us than taking it out to the landfill. I mean, (landfills) aren't going to be around forever."
In all, the county recycled 3,122.15 tons of material last year, up from 2005 when it took in 3,025.30 tons and 2,956.69 tons in 2004.
"I relate it to all the houses popping up," Baines said. "There are a lot of people from the north moving into those houses and people up there are used to recycling because they've been doing it longer.
"But we're trying to educate more people about it, so it looks like it might be catching on, especially with the younger residents."
Baines said Saturdays are usually heavy business days for the county's convenience centers. Some centers see an average of 2,000 cars per week.
In order to make each center more efficient, Baines said he was waiting on a $70,000 grant in order to purchase a horizontal compactor for cardboard. As of Wednesday, cardboard's asking price had risen to $152 a ton. As of last summer, cardboard was going for $70-$80 a ton.
"Cardboard is so popular because it goes overseas," Baines said. "Countries like Japan buy and use only recycled material. They are way ahead of the U.S. on that end. That, and they don't use landfills."The demand for metal is also high right now, so we get a lot of revenue back from the sale of metal as well. That's another material that goes overseas, especially steel. There's a big auto market overseas."
On March 31, the Washington County Waste Tire Recycling Center, 190 Lancaster Road, Kingsport, will hold its "Great American Cleanup Free Tire Day."
The event is for Washington County residents only. Up to 50 tires will be accepted at no charge per residence. Tires will be accepted on or off rims. Off-road tires will not be accepted as well as tires from businesses or trucking companies.
For more information call April Johnson, tire recycling coordinator at 349-6429 or 773-6473.