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Calhoun Recycling experiences positive changes

January 24, 2019

Working out of their location on 212 Pine St., Calhoun’s Recycling Center has seen changes since a shift in operations around three years ago, according to Calhoun Assistant Director of Public Works Shawn Chastain, who also serves as the operations manger at the center.

“For years here at this center we didn’t process (materials). We’re just improving as we go,” said Chastain. “Now we’re more hands-on.”

Over the last couple of years, Chastain said, the center has been able to work more with community organizations and businesses to raise awareness and improve participation. Some of their local partners include Calhoun City Schools, City Council members, AdventHealth Gordon, Mauldin Trash Service, Santek Waste Services, Gordon County Sheriff’s Office and Chick-fil-A.

Currently, the center is accepting cardboard, plastic, paper, aluminum, tin and glass. Chastain said some of their biggest money makers, though, are paper, aluminum and cardboard.

And in their building — a CCS owned bus shop that the schools share with the center — they have baling machines that process cardboard and aluminum cans into bales that weigh anywhere from 700 pounds to 1,100 pounds. From there, the bales are sold to other recycling facilities across the state. For example, aluminum typically sells for an average of 50 cents per pound, Chastain said, and goes to a Rome center when it’s been processed.

Chastain also said his work at the center is heavily influenced by City Recycling Coordinator Judy Peterson and volunteer Renee Mauldin, the owner of Mauldin Trash Service.

“Basically what we do is every Tuesday is we go and pick up the cardboard from several businesses downtown and haul it over there to the recycling center,” Mauldin said.

A couple of years ago, Maudlin received a call from Peterson asking to sit down and talk about the potential of getting the center some additional assistance.

“I felt like it was the right thing to do to help them out,” Mauldin said. “It’s basically just to help out the people who don’t have a way of hauling their own stuff over to the recycling center.”

Mauldin, who volunteers with Chastain and Peterson, said she makes her money picking up trash but that she’s learned a lot recently about recycling through her work with the center. Mauldin and her workers pick up cardboard and take it to the center on a weekly basis, working it into their normal schedule, even going so far as to walking through downtown and finding pieces in gutters and alleyways.

Looking forward and moving into 2019, Chastain said he wants the center to eventually be able to provide pickup services. A few years ago, the center hosted a pilot curbside program, but it didn’t go over as smoothly as expected.

“It was more of a cost factor, we’re just not set up for that yet,” said Chastain, admitting it was still a goal of his. “I don’t know how many years we’re away from that, but that’s the plan to stay here and work on it.”

This year, they’re going to try to host an appliance drop-off day and a tire amnesty day, which Chastain plans to advertise either on the radio or Facebook. He also said once the weather gets a little better, they hope to ramp back up their compost pile.

“Everything’s going good, and our materials are steadily increasing,” Chastain said. “We’ve got a long ways to go but we’ve also come a long ways. Awareness and educating people are still the biggest things.”

Chastain is always looking for more volunteers to help with baling, collecting and transporting. For more information on the Calhoun Recycling Center, contact Chastain at rcenter@calnet-ga.net or visit the center’s Facebook page.

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