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Tight quarters hinders recycling

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By Katie Hogin

At the Roane County Recycling Center, space has become an issue.

“It’s really hard to take care of everything that needs to be done,” said solid waste coordinator Ralph Stewart.

Over the past five years, the recycling center’s intake of cardboard has soared from approximately 20 tons of cardboard a month to 20 tons a week.

The center uses its only building to sort and bale all of the recyclables, some that can be sold.

Stewart hopes funding soon will work in his favor to incorporate a new building with an automated baler.

“If we have a load of cardboard comes in, we have to do the cardboard first and then when we get that we start on the plastic,” he said.

Having another building would cut down time, allowing the workers to sort more than one material at a time.  

“I would like to be able to tell anybody that’s wanting to recycle cardboard or paper that I can take it, but right now it’s hard to deal with any more that I’m getting already,” Stewart said. “You know, it’s really hard to take care of everything that needs to be done.”

He thinks they’ll always take care of the residents, but many businesses are cutting costs and recycling more to save in landfill costs.

“If you look outside my building here, you’ll see it (cardboard) sitting outside right now waiting for us to get it in,” said Stewart. “It’s kind of to the point to where you know you got to do it, and you got to get it done, and if you don’t somebody’s going to put it in the landfill.”

Stewart will have to wait unil the budget process this year to bring up the subject of expansion.

The center will soon purchase two new compacters for the two largest of their 13 convenience centers — at South Hwy. 58 and North Gallaher Road, and move the current compacters to smaller centers.