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July 2020
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Changes coming with county’s new recycling center


Angela Reinhardt / Photo

Pickens County’s Recycling & Waste Director Kenny Woodard at the command station of the future recycling center. Here, he shows a photo of the loading area on a baling machine that will be delivered soon. 


Right now, the county’s new 28,000 square foot recycling center is empty – just a massive bare concrete floor under an open-air metal structure. 

But Pickens’ new Recycling & Waste Director Kenny Woodard said in a few months it will be outfitted and equipped for recycling and household trash services, with some big changes to how and what the county will accept. 

Woodard toured this reporter around the Stanley Drive facility just off Highway 515, and provided details about the layout and traffic flow, as well as efforts to have the recycling department become a self-sustaining entity instead of a money loser as it has been in the past. 

“We really want to focus on recycling, think about this long term and get us to be self-sustaining,” Woodard said as he pointed out the area where seven 16x12 foot bays will be built for different types of recyclables customers will drop off already separated.  

The bays will be for cardboard (to include canned soda cases/pasteboard but not wax-coated cardboard), mixed paper/junk mail, aluminum cans, white paper, #1 plastic PET (bottles and jars only including things like mayonnaise and peanut butter containers), #2 HDPE plastic (colored plastic jugs such as milk, detergent, juice, etc.), #2 clear plastic (items like clear milk jugs), and steel cans. At the Cove Road facility, which will remain open, seven open dumpsters will be put on site for those materials.

Currently, the county does not have people sort their recyclables (other than glass) at their two facilities on Camp and Cove roads. They accept those materials in a “single-stream” method and pay a waste management company $175 a load to haul it to Atlanta, where it is later sorted. 

“Every load that’s $175 the county is spending,” Woodard said. “That’s losing money. We can separate these out and I can sell the product - but some things there is just not a market for and I can’t sell, like the thicker, ridged plastics in things like kids toys. Those will have to go to the landfill.” 

The Camp Road facility, which will no longer be in use after the new center opens, was not equipped to have recyclables separated, according to Pickens Commission Chair Rob Jones, who said there was nowhere to store recycled materials out of the elements and build up enough to interest vendors. 

“We weren’t able to have enough to have anyone want to come get them,” Jones said. 

The county has ordered a baler, which is now being manufactured, that will compress all seven of those recyclables into large cubes that can be stored on site until time to be hauled off. Woodard said he expects the machine to be delivered in June, and hopes to open the center no later than August. Eventually they would like to purchase a mattress shredder, but that could be a little down the road as they get their financial and operational footing.

At the new center, the county will also offer free white paper shredding services (appointments will need to be made for large quantities); will accept glass (to be separated into two categories – clear and a mix of green and brown); tires and furniture all for a fee depending on size; mattresses ($15) electronics (no cost for most, but some televisions come with a fee depending on size. No old computer monitors accepted); scrap metal (no cost, includes things like washing machines, hot water heaters. Refrigerators cost $12); and oil/antifreeze (no charge).  

Household trash will still be $1 a bag to dump (they will begin to accept card swipe payments in addition to cash, but will no longer accept checks). 

The center will also no longer accept C&DD (construction and demolition debris) materials and will not accept any rigid plastics. 

Woodard, who comes from Floyd County where he designed and helped operate a recycling center, said traffic flow and efficiency was very important to him as he thought about layout of the Pickens facility. Customers will be able to be under cover as they recycle the majority of materials. They will be greeted by an employee who will direct them to a drive to the left of the building if they want to dump household garbage, and they will be routed around the recycling bays to keep the area from getting clogged up.

The center will be staffed with employees who will guide people about what materials they do and don’t accept, and Woodard plans to create a video tutorial he will post on their new Facebook page that will take people on a kind of virtual tour of the center as items are dropped off.     

At this time, plans are to keep their regular Tuesday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours, but said it’s possible things could change in the future as they hammer out the operations. 

Follow them on Facebook at Pickens County GA Recycling Center.