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The Economics of Going Green in Ga.

By Titus Falodun | 4/18/2014, 12:30 p.m.
On average, a person generates about 4.4 pounds of trash each day, and about 1.5 tons of solid waste per ...
“In Georgia, if you told someone that, they’d look at you funny. Recycling is not free, any step of the way. When the city of Atlanta cranked their trucks this morning, and the guys clocked-in, that was the first cost in the puzzle.” Photo by Titus Falodun.

According to McMichen, Georgia is one of the rare cases where it is cheaper to throw stuff away than recycle.

“In California, you have to pay to recycle,” he said. “In Georgia, if you told someone that, they’d look at you funny. Recycling is not free, any step of the way. When the city of Atlanta cranked their trucks this morning, and the guys clocked-in, that was the first cost in the puzzle.”

Running their routes all-day on diesel, plus the wear and tear on the trucks, there is a very high and very real cost to recycling. But the kickback comes from what can be made from the recycled material.

In fact, it costs the city $60 a ton when contaminated recyclables are brought to recycling centers like Waste Pro.

Like other waste removal service companies, Waste Pro is in the business of making green off of going green. So, they work with mills and manufacturers to turn their assortment of materials into things you can find at your local playground or fast food restaurant, from asphalt to napkins.

And no city in the nation is making going green work like San Francisco.

“They’re in a whole different world; they’re on a whole different level of recycling,” former Bay-area resident Amara Wheatley told The Atlanta Voice. “It’s mandated. Your citizens have to participate or they’re fined. And they recycle everything: food scraps, vehicles, tires…”

The food scraps turns into fertilizer for the vineyards and they take the tire materials and sell them to asphalt companies.

Trash Day at the Bay is real. And if you don’t comply, they give you a warning and that’s it. After that, there’s a hefty fine in your monthly statement. And if the problem persists on your end, city officials will come to visit you.

Simply put, they take recycling seriously out West. But the City of Atlanta is not looking to penalize its citizens to bring about change.

“One of the best ways to modify behavior in adults is through their kids,” Mendoza said about the City of Atlanta’s partnership with early recycling education of the Atlanta Public Schools youth. “And if you’re going to change behavior long term, you have to begin with the younger folks.”

In due time, the year 2020 to be specific, we shall see if Atlanta’s tactics prove to be effective in reaching its 90 percent best-in-class waste diversion rate.

CORRECTION & ADDITION: Changes made to this online version include Coca-Cola's involvement in ReCart, not Cartlanta, as well as how much Waste Pro charges the City of Atlanta for contaminated recyclables.