CHaRM facility coming soon!

By Esther Shim

Residents and businesses in the community of Athens have been limited when it comes to recycling or disposing of broken equipment around the home or workplace. During fall of 2015, the city of Athens, Ga., in response to the lack of proper trash handling, will finally bring in a one-stop-drop facility for those inconvenient, large or dangerous objects that are difficult to recycle.

The 2011 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) is funding the Athens-Clarke County Center for Hard to Recycle Materials facility (ACC CHaRM) or Project #25, which will replace the former Solid Waste Department site at 1005 College Avenue. According to the SPLOST Project Concept, the 11,217 square feet facility will be able to house all necessary equipment and will cost $187,000 to renovate and equip.

On Feb. 2, 2012, the members of the Mayor and Commission meeting approved the Center for Hard to Recycle Material’s concept, designed to accommodate the community’s need for convenient trash management, according to the Athens Banner-Herald. The purpose of the facility is to provide a location that people can bring their large or dangerous items, such as vacuums, mattresses, refrigerators, or even chemically composed objects. This will prevent residents or businesses from having to leave potentially hazardous items on their curbs or in front of their homes, according to the project concept.

Additionally, the concept proposes that it will provide opportunities for the community to learn how to efficiently recycle and use the resources that they have available. There will also be educational programs available to teach the younger generation about the importance of conservation and recycling.

A large area that the facility will affect is the main downtown region of Athens. Suki Janssen, the interim director of the Solid Waste Department, says that downtown is always a challenging area for trash and recycling management due to the lack of alleys to hold disposed or recycled items.

“So many business owners can’t put their trash and recyclables in a less visual location, and they can’t keep it in their facility due to health code violations,” said Janssen.

Business owners and residents will be able to bring in their broken equipment or large objects to an area that is close by and easy to access. Janssen said the facility will also play a large role in raising the waste diversion rates from 47% to 60% by the year of 2018 due to the efficiency that should come from the center’s operational nature.

Items that are dropped off will be sorted and labeled as recyclable or disposable. Large items that are recyclable will be taken apart so that conservable pieces can be reused. Hazardous or chemically composed items that can’t be recycled will be disposed of in landfills. The Solid Waste Department’s goal is to recycle as much of the dropped-off material as possible.

Although the facility is conveniently located and easy to use, the project plan suggests that there will be a small handling and shipping fee for certain items such as electronics, tires, and other reusable objects. The Athens-Clarke County’s concept for the center originated from facilities in Colorado.

The first Center for Hard to Recycle Materials facility was established in Boulder, Colo., and opened in 2001, according to the Eco-Cycle, an organization which helps provide services to help build zero-waste communities. The organization designed the facility with hopes to recycle more objects instead of throwing them away. This not only reduces the amount of trash building up in landfills, but it also provides ways for communities to conserve natural resources by reusing items that have already been used.

The Center for Hard to Recycle Materials has swept through Colorado, and is making its way into Georgia’s communities. The morning of Nov. 15, the Atlanta City Council held a groundbreaking ceremony for its own recycling facility, and the site became operational at the beginning of the year.

Other states have also constructed facilities to hold hazardous or hard to recycle materials, while others have specifically targeted electronics due to their mixed compositions of reusable parts. The Environmental Protection Agency states that many of these facilities have been designed to not only reduce waste, but also to produce economic development opportunities.

In charging a small fee for handling, the facilities provide employment opportunities and generate tax revenues from the operations. Frank Hefner and Calvin Blackwell, professors of the Department of Economics and Finance at the College of Charleston, say that recycling contributes to the economic health of a state just as much as it benefits the environment.

Due to the benefits that recycling and conservation have on the environment as well as the economy, many states in the nation have either adopted the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials facility design, or have chosen to build facilities that are specific to hazardous or reusable items such as electronics or vehicle parts.

The Athens-Clarke County facility will provide many benefits and job opportunities for members of the community. It will be an efficient way for the city to become a more eco-friendly community and a more economically sustainable one as well.

To find out more information about the Athens-Clarke County Center for Hard to Recycle Materials or the origin of the facility, take a look at the following sites:

Origin of CHaRM Facility: www.ecocycle.org/charm

ACC CHaRM Facility: www.athensclarkecounty.com/5849/CHaRM

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