Thursday, November 8, 2012

Recycling in Chattanooga reported yesterday that the City of Chattanooga is now offering free recycling to area businesses. The new program is a "biweekly, property tax-based service includes collection of paper products, cardboard, aluminum cans, tin cans and all grades of plastics." This is great news in a town that has struggled with recycling in the past several years. In 2007 Mayor Ron Littlefield made "the controversial move to scale back curbside recycling from weekly to monthly," as the Times Free Press explained. This reduction in service was ostensibly to save the city money, although Littlefield put a great deal of money into a "Recycle Right" advertising campaign that seemed to do little more than feature a Recycling Racoon mascot which appeared at city events and encouraged recycling. The irony of spending tax dollars to encourage recycling after making it significantly more inconvenient to do so was not lost on many Chattanooga citizens.

Alternative recycling companies such as Scenic City Recycling and River City Recycling copped up to fill the void, offering more convenient service and a larger number of accepted items for a fee. The especially dedicated continued to haul their recyclables themselves to recycling centers throughout Hamilton County, many of which are partnered with the Orange Grove Center which serves adults with developmental disabilities. Motivated by frustration with the once a month system and citizen interest in recycling, Littlefield later upgraded recycling service to twice a month in 2009. 

Today residential recycling service remains on the biweekly model, and the new business option is a great sign for Chattanoogans hoping for even greater recycling availability. Chattanoogans can sign up online for collection or by calling (423) 643-JOIN (5646). You will receive a collection schedule and a truck will be routed every other week to collect recyclables. All recyclables must be placed on the curbside in bags or inside containers with a lid securely fastened, according to the

Accepted recyclables are still far behind other cities, like Chicago and its suburbs which even recycle some types of styrofoam. Still, Chattanoogans can recycle the following types of materials: 

  • Aluminum cans - Do not need to rinse or crush
  • Corrugated cardboard - Multiple layered
  • Mixed paper - All paper grades
  • Newspaper - Non-glossy
  • Plastics #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7
  • Steel cans - Food containers must be rinsed out

And, of course, there are still always the recycling centers, which accept a larger number of materials and even some hazardous items like used motor oil, broken electronics, and fluorescent bulbs.

5955 Brainerd Road (map)
1250 E. 3rd Street (map)
3202 Kelleys Ferry Road (map)
8004 Batters Place Road (map)
4500 N. Access Road (map)
Hours of Operation
Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Sunday 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Closed on all recognized City of Chattanooga holidays

Acceptable Materials

  • Aluminum cans - Do not need to rinse or crush
  • Corrugated cardboard - Multiple layered
  • Dry cell batteries - Small electronic batteries
  • Electronics - Computers, printers, mobile phones, stereos and toner cartridges
  • Fluorescent bulbs - Compact, irregular shaped and tubular bulbs 4-feet smaller
  • Glass - Clear, brown, and green
  • Mixed paper - All paper grades
  • Newspaper - Non-glossy
  • Plastics #1, #2
  • Steel cans - Food containers must be rinsed out
  • Used Cooking Oil
  • Used motor oil - Crankcase oil only
  • Wet cell batteries - lead/acid batteries from vehicles, boats, and golf carts

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