Bell County Recycling encourages more to recycle

Published 3:57 pm Friday, March 8, 2019

If you are a family that recycles, you already know that it takes the extra effort to do it consistently, and that is one thing that Kirby Smith wants to encourage.

“You may have noticed the garbage rates are going up in Middlesboro,” Smith said. “It doesn’t get cheaper to dispose of garbage, it gets more expensive. So, anything we can do to pull out of the waste stream helps address that issue as well as environmentally, too.”

Smith is the Chairman of the Bell County Solid Waste District, which has a board, a coordinator, and three full time employees. Together, they manage the solid waste that comes through Bell County as well as the recyclables.

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“We set up the recycling center in Middlesboro about five years ago in an effort to pull out the recyclables from the waste stream to cut down the cost of landfill and the environment. We are going to run out of landfill space eventually,” said Smith. “Anything we can pull out of the waste stream and reuse, that is good. If we can recycle it and turn it into a new product, that is good and that is what we are attempting to do.”

Smith said the recycling center was established in hopes that people would take the time to pull out recyclables from their garbage and drop it off at the center.

“If they’ll go through the trouble of separating the items and putting them in the trailers, we will pick them up and bring them to the recycling center. That’s really been a major effort.”

Smith says they serve between 70 and 80 businesses in Middlesboro and Bell County. They have also put trailers in public areas for people to go by and drop items off. He says even though they are doing that, the key to recycling is curbside recycling.

“We set up a voluntary program in Middlesboro initially, and it’s called the Blue Bag Program where people can sign up and the city will go by and pick up the recyclables once a month,” he said. “It’s the third Thursday of each month, and all they have to do is put their items in the blue bag and keep it out of the garbage and put it by the curb and we will pick that up.”

According to Smith, close to 400 people are participating in the program.

“It is a pretty small percentage if you look at the population,” he said. “We also added Ambleside and have close to 50 people participating. Pineville has taken an interest and Cumberland Gap, and they’re both starting to really get started.”

Bell County Solid Waste also does E-Scrap, which is the recycling of computers. Smith explained that they can’t do anything with televisions but computers can be recycled.

Smith explains that one of their goals for the recycling center would be to have the ability to pay everyone and pay their utilities.

“We are getting close because we are on city property and that helps,” he said. “Our building is paid for and that helps. You’ve got utilities and the cost of running vehicles and picking up all this stuff. We have a ways to go on that.”

Another goal is to get more people utilizing the Blue Bag Program.

“I would like to double that number, and it is very possible,” Smith said. “The ideal situation would be to have it included as a service from the city.”

If you would like to sign up for the Blue Bag Program, you can pick up a form at Middlesboro or Pineville City Hall or the Solid Waste Department. You can also call the Solid Waste Office and have one mailed to your home, or you can go online and fill it out.

Bell County Recycling Center is located at 900 North 15th Street in Middlesboro and they are open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4 pm. They can be reached during business hours at 248-7861.

Items that are considered recyclables include cardboard, paper products, tin cans (rinsed out), aluminum cans, plastics No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3, and glass.