Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Subcategory: Environmental Engineering
Michael J. Cleveland - Tougaloo College
Co-Author(s): Alicia Cardwell-Alston, DeKalb County Board of Health, Decatur, GA
In the State of Georgia’s environment report of 2009, the state outlined an increase in Solid Waste Disposal. They suggested recycling as a method to offset this increase. The present study identifies the number of businesses that recycle and the amount of recycling tonnage they have produced over a 6-year span. From this information, we analyzed these components will have on the community. The study used businesses surveyed by DeKalb County Sanitation Department in Georgia. The project shows the impact of recycling in a large county. An increase in the number of businesses engaged in recycling will result in a decrease solid waste.
Data was collected from the DeKalb County Waste County Sanitation Department. We reviewed over 16,000 public and private business sanitation records. More than 569 businesses were identified as participating in recycling within DeKalb County. Recycling was defined as businesses that separate mixed paper, aluminum, and plastic. These items had to be marked and picked up on the county designated day for gogreen pick, once a week. The recycled tonnage reported was calculated for the 6 period. Within the county, less than 10% of businesses recycled. The number of businesses participating in county recycling increased by more than 1.5 fold over the 6 year span. During that period, the amount of municipal solid waste decreased by 40%. In analyzing the data submitted by the DeKalb County Sanitation Department there were several years, weeks, and months of recycling tonnage not accounted for. This caused some of the results to be slightly skewed. When calculating the number of businesses that recycled throughout the year there were fluctuations in the numbers due to businesses removing themselves from the program or not recycling that week. Regardless, recycling in DeKalb has save the county over $600,000 in revenue that has helped reduce the overall sanitation cost. It has created more green jobs and conserved energy for the county. It also has protected wildlife and provided cleaner water for the community. The county benefits from commercial businesses recycling by reducing their solid disposal waste up to at least 40%. Future studies will focus on examining the role of residential recycling and the impact on solid waste tonnage.
References: State of Georgia’s environment. (2009, April). http://epd.georgia.gov/sites/epd.georgia.gov/files/ epd_soe_report.pdf
Funder Acknowledgement(s): Jackson Heart Study Morehouse College Project Imhotep NSF S-STEM
Faculty Advisor: Bianca Garner,