Recycling paying off for county

Published 10:02 pm Thursday, October 14, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...


A new recycling baler is more than paying for itself and helping the Carter County Landfill fund future equipment needs.

The baler is installed at the Carter County recycling center at 410 Cherokee Park Drive in Elizabethton.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“The price of cardboard is up and is going out the door as fast as we can bale it,” said Landfill Director Benny Lyons. “If we can do that it will help us to update some of the worn-out equipment we have and not have to bum off the county. That’s a big deal. I think if the cardboard keeps doing the way it’s doing, the baler will pay off in no time and then we can start getting some decent trucks.”

Cardboard is coming from various sources including local schools, businesses, and individuals, he said.

Giving an update to the Landfill Committee at the October meeting, Lyons told members to “do the math” in tabulating the potential revenue. In September, 123 tons of cardboard were sold from the recycling center at $200 per ton, a total of $24,600.

Another positive is that Kingsport manufacturer Eastman Chemical Company purchased their first load of baled recycled plastic.

“The company actually brings most of the plastic to us, and we have a place set aside to dump their plastic which comes mainly from within their facility,” stated Lyons. “We sold the first load to them consisting of 20 bales for $3,500.”

Another product that the baler is used for is newspaper. Lyons told the committee that baled newspaper is selling for $90 a ton.

And while baled products are increasing revenue, the landfill also is investing in five dumpsters at a price tag of up to $40,000, an increase from the original bid of $35,000 due to an increase from the manufacture since the initial bid.

Dumpsters are rented for a two-week period for $250 each to contractors and home renovators and aid in “keeping traffic down to allow individual residents easier access,” Lyons said.

The landfill is actively involved in reducing cost and increasing revenue by hauling its own trash to the landfill in Johnson City which is saving the county money.

“We were paying $250 every load that went out previously,” said Lyons. “Before we bought the trucks, we called around and we were looking at $400 a load plus how many tons were on the truck at the landfill.

“We send about seven to eight loads a day out, so you figure $2,800 a day (in savings). We hired two drivers who are full-time employees which is still cheaper than hiring another company to come in and haul it off.”