Last month members of the Walton County Democratic Environmental Caucus (WC DEC) traveled to the Recycling Center for Walton County, to meet with Billy McKee, Solid Waste Director for Walton County. The Caucus, a club made up of Democrats, Republicans and NPA’s, wanted to tour the facility and learn more about recycling in Walton in order to help make this process more efficient and improve the effectiveness of recycling in our Community.
Mr. McKee gave the members a tour and described the recycling process. Recycling is currently a voluntary process in Walton. Individual households must gather their recycling and deposit it at one of the 15 Recycling Trailer sites around the County. These trailers are then transported back to the Recycling Center located at the Landfill north of DeFuniak Springs for sorting. Mr. McKee stated that, on average, the recycle trailers bring in approximately 50 tons of loose, mixed material for sorting and recycling each month. Unfortunately, a large amount of the material that is put in these trailers is not recyclable (probably 50-60 percent). This is primarily because of contamination by materials that are not recyclable and various kinds of debris and garbage that should not be put into the trailers. Once the contents of the trailers are emptied, the material is hand sorted, piece by piece, into collections that are then “baled” and stored for eventual pick up and transport to a Recycling Facility or Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).
Recycling is necessary to try and slow the expansion of landfills, but not really cost effective. It’s very important for individuals to take a few steps to make the process more efficient. The WC DEC created a flier and distributed these at the recent Recycle Amnesty Days and at Recycle Information booths. Recycling should be one of the last steps an individual takes. First, start by refusing single use plastics like water bottles and plastic bags. Reuse plastic food containers, and repurpose plastic containers.
The estimated cost of a single stream curbside recycling collection program along with the construction and operation of the necessary facilities to drop off and load into transport trucks (Transfer Station) would likely be into the many millions of dollars. Options to offset the costs include building a combined use Transfer Center for household garbage and recycling located somewhere closer to South Walton to save fuel and decrease drive time for collection trucks and their crews, pursuing public-private partnerships and grants like those through the Triumph funding, and encouraging end-market development for circular material management.
To learn more, or If you’d like to join in working to improve recycling in Walton County, send an email to WaltonEnvironmentalists@gmail.com.