KINGSPORT — Kingsport’s recycling program — now in its 15th year — has managed to keep more than 25,000 tons of newspaper, glass and aluminum from going into the region’s landfills.
Kingsport’s recycling program began in 1993 and since then, once a week, city public works crews go out and collect the recyclable material residents place in the little green plastic bins. Recyclable material collected includes glass, aluminum, plastic, steel, newspaper, mixed paper and used motor oil.
The amount of material collected since 1993 comes to approximately 25,426 tons, with the largest amounts being newspaper (16,959 tons), glass (3,721 tons) and plastic (1,879 tons). During the 2008 fiscal year, Kingsport collected 2,059.5 tons of recyclable material, including 1,277 tons of newspaper, 322 tons of mixed paper and 250 tons of plastic.
“It shows the community has an awareness for our resources, and we’re striving to be a green community,” said Ronnie Hammonds, Kingsport’s streets and sanitation manager. “It looks good for the city of Kingsport to have a recycling program.”
Under the program, Kingsport provides the bins to every household in the city (16,500) and collects the material once a week on garbage day. Hammonds said the city has about a 30 percent weekly participation rate in the program.
“Roughly everybody in the city is provided a bin, and nearly everyone participates to some extent, some more than others,” Hammonds said. “Some put it out every week, some every two weeks, and some every month.
“It just varies, and it has peaks and valleys. Right now it seems to be a little better, and it’s been pretty steady throughout the years.”
Once the material is collected, the city delivers the material to Tri-City Waste Paper — a materials handling facility the city has had a contract with for about nine years. Kingsport pays TCWP $5,000 a month to handle the material, and TCWP pays the city back a percentage of the newspaper sales — usually $5,000 to $7,000 a month.
Kingsport’s yearly budget for the recycling program is $476,703, which comes out to a cost to the city of $2.39 a month per household. Hammonds said the program is not profitable or a break-even situation for the city, though there are some advantages other than money.
“You have to figure in the waste that doesn’t go into the landfill and the amount you save by using a recycled material,” Hammonds said. “It takes less to recycle an aluminum can than it does to make a new aluminum can. It’s not money per se, but you’re putting everything into account.”
In addition to the money received back from TCWP, the city also receives some money from the state to help offset the cost of the recycling program.
Kingsport recently applied for a Solid Waste Recycling Rebate Grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment in the amount of $7,383. The dollar-to-dollar match will come from the purchase of recycling bins, staff salaries and partnership materials for Keep Kingsport Beautiful.
Sullivan County, Johnson City and Washington County also receive similar grants, Hammonds said.