Few people know of the journey that their trash makes once it hits the local curb for pick-up.
The Cedartown Standard, because of this, sought to find out what really goes on with Polk County’s garbage. There is more to trash pick-up than meets the eye, according to landfill manager Jimmy Lowther. The details would make even the largest of rats drool.
Polk County produces over 100 tons of garbage a day.
Trash, when picked up, journeys far to the east, down Grady Road off Highway 278, for deposition in the county’s transfer station where it is later shipped to a landfill in Alabama. Despite the two new cells that have been constructed to hold garbage, the actual landfill facility is not in use.
Lowther said that they are instead still using the transfer station because of the low cost of transfer to Alabama. The landfill staff deposits only one truckload of garbage per year to maintain certification.
The county began construction on the new, unused cells at the landfill a year and a half ago. The landfill is made up of four layers, the bottom consisting of a lower level of soil at what Lowther said was called the D-horizon. The soil is topped with red clay and a high-density polyethylene liner. The layers are then topped with sand, on which the garbage may be placed on top of.
Underneath the dirt layers a piping system is constructed to monitor levels of methane and water contaminants. Both the ground water and level of methane must be checked regularly by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“During the building process it was much more feasible to haul the trash to Alabama,” Lowther said. “It keeps the garbage out of our environment here.”
In addition to constructing the cells, the landfill must also maintain an overflow pond to catch water from the cells when it rains and ship the water to a water facility where it can be cleaned and treated. This also helps to prevent ground water contamination.
Polk County already has three full cells of waste, which under EPA guidelines must be monitored and maintained 30 years after they are closed.
Once a cell is closed, it is seeded with grass and must remain covered with grass until the 30 years are over.
“There are not many uses for it,” Lowther said. “I have managed to get a good flock of wild turkey over it.”
The two new cells remain unused to this date and are under consideration for sale by the county government.
Lowther said that there was much to be done at the landfill on a daily basis. Trash must be weighed as it comes in on the scales. A fee is charged only for those industries dumping; there is no charge to citizens. The trash is then carried to the transfer station for shipment in the evening.
A certified landfill operator must also be on duty during the operating day to check waste and make sure that no biomedical products or hazardous waste chemicals are hidden in with the trash.
The Polk County landfill takes only non-hazardous waste items.
The landfill also maintains six convenience centers for residential waste and recyclables.
Sites are located at Davis Road, Canal Street, and behind the Farmer’s Store on Highway 27 in Cedartown, as well as Baldwin Cut and the old landfill in Rockmart, and Prospect Road in Aragon.
For the calendar year of 2000 Lowther said that the landfill had recycled 7,780 pounds of aluminum, 104,915 pounds of corrugated cardboard, 34,030 pounds of plastic, 45,168 pounds of glass, 173,260 pounds of newspapers, 25,460 pounds of mixed papers, 366,352 pounds of scrap metal and 1,000 gallons of motor oil.
All recyclable material is shipped to the Rome/ Floyd Recycling Center.
The Polk facility also takes old tires for a small price. The tires must be shipped out within a short amount of time to discourage mosquito breeding.
In addition to this, Lowther said the facility also manages several clothing pick-up sites and chips any yard waste deposited at the landfill.
Lowther said citizens can pick up the mulch produced from the chips at the landfill for no charge.
“We are trying to build up the recycling program,” said Lowther. “It is our stalemate.
I wish the city of Cedartown would begin their own recycling program. It would be a good program for them.”
At present, the landfill is managed and operated by Polk County. Commissioners have discussed selling the landfill or possibly forming a partnership with a second party. A work session is planned for later this month to discuss all the options.
Prior to the Grady Road site, county residents used a landfill on Highway 278, where a convenience center now resides.