Landfill expands collection programs

Photo by WEAU Production

Photo by WEAU Production

COVINGTON -- The folks at Newton County Landfill and Keep Covington-Newton Beautiful are finding creative ways to save money and help those in need.

Residents are encouraged to bring cooking oil, along with bicycles and clothes, to the landfill, located at 205 Lower River Road, from 8 a.m. to noon on the first and third Saturdays of each month beginning Aug. 6.

The bicycles and clothes will be donated to the local branch of the Salvation Army. Solid Waste Director James Peters was inspired to start the collection of clothes and bikes after hearing of similar programs at a Solid Waste Association of North America conference. He contacted KCNB, where he serves as a member of the Recycling Committee, and KCNB assisted in forming a partnership with the Salvation Army.

Peters said he sees between 15 and 20 bikes with little to nothing wrong dumped at the landfill each month. He said people likely move away and don't want to haul the bikes, or kids outgrow them.

"I thought that with current economic conditions, some of the parents in Newton County might not be able to buy bicycles for their kids," he said. "I see a lot of good bicycles going into the landfill, and I thought this would be a way to give some kids some bicycles and also save space in the landfill."

The bikes will be distributed by the Salvation Army to the community twice a year -- at Christmas and in the spring -- and clothes will go to the local center's family store on Washington Street.

"I am very excited about this program," said Jody Carver, Salvation Army Newton County Service Center director. "It is a great way for residents who may not typically think about donating items to give back. Plus, in the process of saving the environment, they can also save a little money and help their own community."

Also on the first and third Saturday of each month, residents are asked to bring cooking oil to the landfill to be recycled by a company called Down to Earth Energy out of Walton County, then converted into bio-diesel fuel. If enough is collected, Peters intends to run landfill trucks and equipment on bio-diesel, a cost-saving measure, he said. Down to Earth Energy will buy the cooking oil and convert it, and will deduct the price of oil collected from the cost of any fuel purchased by Newton County, he said.

"We look forward to our partnership," said Rick Huszagh, CEO of Down to Earth Energy. "There are several benefits to recycling cooking oil into bio-diesel. The county will avoid the problems that are caused by the improper disposal of cooking oil. Water quality will be protected by diverting a waste product from water bodies. The use of bio-diesel in county trucks and equipment will help improve air quality due to bio-diesel's reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases compared to diesel. All of this is achieved with a locally produced, renewable fuel made from waste products."

The collection service is free to Newton County residents only. Commercial waste cannot be accepted due to OSHA regulations.

These new programs are in addition to the continuing E-Cycle and Household Hazardous Waste collection events on the first Saturday of each month, when residents can bring electronics, electrical appliances, paint and pesticides to be recycled.