If 2013 is to become the year that recycling efforts are
stepped up in Loudon County, it will be through increased education and better use of Loudon County
Convenience Centers - and possibly the implementation of some new technology.
The city of
Loudon is likely to implement garbage collection fees this year, but curbside pickup of recyclables
is not expected to be part of the discussion despite requests from some local
residents. Recycling programs are expensive and the city's budget is tighter than in many years,
city officials said.
"It (recycling) is not in the budget," Lynn Mills, Loudon city manager,
said. "We looked at this last fall. We have a small population. Curbside (recycling) pickup is
suited to more condensed populations than we have in small towns."
Mayor Judy Keller said
Loudon already meets the state's recycling guidelines, but the city would be looking at other
"We've never done individual pickup, but for that to work you would
need to have whole neighborhoods involved," Keller said.
Loudon County Convenience
Centers for recycling are located in the city of Loudon, Lenoir City and Greenback. Gordon Harless,
recycling coordinator, said efforts by the centers is increasing in general, with recycling of most
products up a bit from the previous year.
"Scrap metal is down," Harless said. "When the
economy is bad, people tend to collect their scrap metal to sell it themselves," Harless
In 2012, Loudon County recycled a little more than 500,000 pounds of scrap metal,
780,000 pounds of cardboard, 177,000 pounds of plastic, 929,000 pounds of mixed paper and 274,00
pounds of electronics.
The challenge Steve Field, Loudon County Solid Waste Commission
chairman, said meeting a mandate to reduce the landfill waste stream by 25 percent still
presents a challenge for Harless.
Each year, solid waste districts must file reports to
the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation detailing what is being done to reduce
waste to sanitary landfills, extend landfill life and protect the local environment.
fall, TDEC Solid Waste Supervisor Matt Maynard met with Harless and city officials to look at
recycling efforts in place.
"There are significant penalties if we are not in compliance with
TDEC regulations," Harless said. Field said Harless is working with municipalities to reduce
"green waste" going to the landfill. That area of recycling is less costly and offers possibilities
for increased implementation, he said.
Shannon Ashford, TDEC communications officer, said the
waste reduction diversion goal of 25 percent is nothing new. The goal has been in place since 1991
and all regions - including cities and counties - are required to meet the 25 percent waste
reduction goal each year, Ashford said.
"It is important to note that the region failed to
meet the goal, not the landfill," Ashford noted. If the goal is not met by the region, Ashford said
a qualitative assessment is conducted. During the assessment, the region that hasn't met the goal is
compared to regions with similar populations. The assessment looks at everything that went into the
landfill and what was recycled.
Maynard's visit to Loudon County last fall was for the
qualitative assessment, Ashford said. Fines, while possible, have not been levied in the past, she
Green waste Green waste includes leaves, tree limbs, twigs and other organic
Bill Fagg, Loudon public works director, said the city processes 150 tons of chips
"We've been chipping all of our limbs for 30 years," Fagg said. "We never take leaves
or chips to the landfill. We give them to local farmers to put on their gardens. In two years, it
turns into black dirt. They are easy to give away."
Green waste stream reduction offers some
possibilities for cooperation and expansion, Harless said. Because of a change of rules, simply
chipping green waste no longer qualifies as recycling the material. Harless said green waste must be
processed into mulch or used for fuel for the county to receive recycling credit.
hoping to be able to get back to the table with green waste discussions and see if we can work
together more economically," Harless said. "We need to see if we can set up a system for green waste
collection and look at our capital needs for collecting the material, storing it temporarily and
finding a beneficial end use for the waste product. Wood chips can be ground into sawdust. Part of
the challenge is finding an end use for the product so we can do it all affordably."
driven Wampler's Farm Sausage is completing installation of the world's first commercial CHyP
(Cellulose to Hydrogen Power) generation plant. The plant will help power the manufacture of sausage
as well as producing bio char, a nutrient-rich soil amendment as a byproduct.
Waiting in the
wings for that project's completion, the Lenoir City Utilities Board is looking to install a
$100,000, 250 kilowatt CHyP (Cellulose to Hydrogen Power) system at the city's wastewater treatment
plant. Financed through a Clean Energy Tennessee Grant, LCUB will use wood chips from local sources
as the CHyP System's feedstock to create synthetic gas, which will be fed into a natural gas
generator to produce on-demand electricity.
The CHyP System is expected completely to offset
the electricity consumption of LCUB's wastewater treatment plant, currently at more than 1.5 million
kilowatt hours of electricity per year, according to Craig Dunn, LCUB Electric Department
Shannon Littleton, LCUB manager, said the utility is positive about getting the
project under way, but decided to wait until they could see it demonstrated.
"I think the
board's wisdom was that they did not want to be the guinea pig for this project, but they would
follow Wampler's," Littleton said. "Initially, we will just use tree trimmings and sludge from the
wastewater treatment plant. It is a process that tends to use the solid waste stream to produce
energy and it is an inexpensive process."
Installation of the CHyP plant should not take more
than six months, Littleton said.
"We think we can have it done within the year," Littleton
said. "We have electrical staff to do the electrical work. We just need time for the equipment to be
At present, green waste is not going to the landfill, Lenoir City street
superintendent J.J. Cox said. Trees, limbs and leaves are processed by the municipality.
grind it and use it to do mulching for our landscape projects," Cox said. "If you mix it, it will
rot faster, so none of our leaves and limbs go to the landfill."
Some local recycling efforts
are driven by area businesses and industries. Harless pointed out that cardboard recycling is up
locally because cardboard is used to make shingles by a Knoxville company.
is a huge leader in our economy and they use recycled paper," Harless said. "Although we don't sell
to them directly, a lot of paper ends up there. And Alcoa uses recycled aluminum."
products that save money, produce energy and/or offset operating costs are ideal when budgets are
The process is slow, but development of sustainable products using recycled materials
is on the rise. Harless said the larger scale recycling efforts are more cost effective.
we recycled everything we throw away in Loudon County, we could increase our competitiveness,"
Education, he said, is a key component of that effort. The county is working in
schools through the local 4-H program to increase awareness about recycling. Schools with
recycling programs are North Middle, Philadelphia Elementary, Steekee Elementary, Loudon High and
Eaton Elementary. "We keep adding one a year and pretty soon, we will have them all," Harless
Keller said education of youth will be necessary to change public mindsets about
recycling. "The younger generation will teach us how to do it," she said.