The Alabama Department of Environmental Management invests significant financial and technical resources to enhance the ability of Alabama citizens to participate in a local recycling program. ADEM recently announced, for the third consecutive year, that almost $2 million in grant funds will be provided to local communities to either enhance existing recycling programs or start new recycling programs. This announcement builds upon the almost $5 million in recycling grants that have already been awarded.
These grant funds are used to purchase equipment such as scales, recycling bins, collection trucks, balers and recycling trailers that will provide enhanced recycling opportunities for Alabamians. These enhancements to the overall recycling infrastructure in Alabama will make recycling easier and more convenient. Additionally, grant funds are used to promote education/outreach efforts to ensure all citizens are aware of the benefits of recycling.
Although recycling provides both economic and environmental benefits, relatively few Alabamians participate in a recycling program. The recent report entitled “Economic Impact of Recycling in Alabama and Opportunities for Growth” determined that in one year Alabamians spent $25 million to dispose of recyclable materials that were worth $193 million. This practice is not only wasteful but also increases the amount of material that is sent to landfills thereby increasing the need to construct new landfills.
While ADEM implements a wide-range of environmental programs to ensure the protection and preservation of Alabama’s environmental resources, one of the major components of ensuring the long-term sustainability of Alabama’s natural resources is recycling. The dedicated staff of professionals at the Alabama Department of Environmental Management will continue their efforts to ensure Alabama citizens have clean air to breathe, safe water to drink and the ability to participate in a recycling program at the local level, which ultimately supports the conservation of Alabama’s natural resources for future generations.
Scott Hughes is chief of the Office of External Affairs at the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.