FLORENCE, Ala. – While many people are still laid-back in their easy-chair relaxing from the holiday season, some folks are hard at work. They are starting to sift through mounds of recycled materials left next to curbs in Florence, but there is some relief in sight for these workers.
It’s a highly choreographed operation. As trucks dump their loads, forklifts whiz through the Florence Recycling Center feeding the conveyor belt with paper, boxes and bottles.
“This is definitely the busiest time of year,” said Rachel Mansell with Florence Recycling. “It will take them months to go through all of the materials that are collected for Christmas. So, sometime this spring they will recover,”
Mansell said the materials brought into the center increases by 25 percent during the holiday season. This year they are expecting to sift through 1,000 tons of recyclables.
“If you look at your garbage, more than half of it is recyclable,” explained Mansell. “Especially during the holidays, because you have a lot of cardboard and a lot of paper and plastic bottles as we are entertaining.”
To speed things along next year, the city has received an ADEM grant to install a fiber screen sorter. It’s a $200,000 Christmas present from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
Mansell said this will save workers countless hours during sorting. “Basically, instead of us hand-picking those materials off the belt and putting them into a bin it will be done automated. So that is huge because about 50 percent of what comes through the recycle center is paper.”
And the more materials they can get processed, the more they can get to manufacturing facilities in north Alabama. Materials are sold to local manufacturers like SCA Tissue and Constellium Metals, both in Colbert County.
According to Florence Recycling, 70 percent of homes within the city participate in the recycling program.