Atlanta Recycles is focused on assisting municipalities, businesses, residents, and visitors to Atlanta with easy, cost effective programs aimed at increasing recycling; and educating the citizens and businesses of Atlanta about the economic and environmental benefits of recycling. The objectives are to:
- Promote legislative initiatives that encourage recycling in the city of Atlanta and surrounding metro areas
- Support and strengthen recycling markets for pre and post consumer waste
- Increase overall environmental awareness to enhance conservation
Statewide, millions of dollars worth of commonly recycled materials such as cardboard, aluminum, metal and plastics are being disposed of in Georgia’s landfills each year. More than $15 million of these materials come from residents within the City of Atlanta alone. In addition to the lost market value of these materials, Georgian’s are annually expending an estimated $90 million to dispose of these materials.
Virtually all of these commonly recycled materials could be used by Georgia manufacturers, as Georgia is home to a wide array of businesses that use recycled materials to manufacture their products Manufacturers find these materials in short supply here due to an inadequate recycling collection infrastructure in Georgia and the perceived lack of recycling markets in the state. Global markets for recyclables are competitive. When these materials are shipped overseas, Georgia manufacturers are forced to compete internationally for these materials and import them from other states to support their operations
Tne of the most significant barriers to recycling in Georgia is that it has some of the lowest landfill tipping fees in the nation. With this low tipping fee structure, non-manufacturing businesses and municipalities do not have an economic incentive to recover these materials. It is estimated that the state of Georgia currently has enough permitted landfill space to accommodate the current disposal rate for another 26 years.
Another barrier is the general lack of public understanding of the economic and environmental value in harvesting recyclable materials and of how proper conservation of our waste stream can stimulate Georgia’s economy. The general public also often does not realize that using recycled materials significantly reduces the need to depend on virgin resources and foreign energy sources.
Getting recyclable material to the businesses that need it is another hurdle. The manufacturers that stand to gain the most from a robust recycling program are located throughout the state, and it is a challenging task to coordinate the people who need the materials with the municipalities who influence the collections of these materials. A robust recycling program that is statewide would create a significant economic development opportunity.
Finally, the governmental structure in the metro Atlanta area makes a coordinated, regional recycling approach difficult. There are numerous counties and cities within the metropolitan area, each with their own waste management plan and differing levels of solid waste and recycling services. Some municipalities provide waste collection services while others have privatized their programs. Some municipalities provide or arrange for solid waste collection for both residents and businesses, and some only collect from residences. Developing a comprehensive education campaign or collection scheme to meet the diverse level of services is quite complicated.
With its robust economy, the City of Atlanta is home to a wide range of international businesses, leading research universities, and the third largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the nation. Many of these institutions are interested in implementing cost effective recycling initiatives, and are willing to investigate new ways to recycle more materials.
Areas of Concentration include:
4. Non-traditional Materials
5. Public Spaces
Within the greater Atlanta environs, numerous major commercial and industrial businesses are seeking greater access to commonly recyclable materials, including metals, plastic, glass, and paper. The development of a coordinated, comprehensive recycling plan within the Atlanta metropolitan area offers the opportunity for major economic development within the state of Georgia. Over 25 businesses that use recyclable materials have come together to work with Atlanta Recycles to spur further economic development.