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Brunswick, Georgia 31521
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The GEC has received numerous complaints this year about problems with recycling.  We did some research and focused on this issue at our March meeting.  Here are some things we have learned:

   Unfortunately, very little gets recycled from Glynn County.    The City of Brunswick has no recycling program at all!  On Jekyll Island, the JIA maintains a recycling drop-off center which seems to take almost everything, but only newspapers, clean cardboard, and aluminum cans actually get recycled.  The rest is carried away by Waste Management to a landfill.  The newspapers are taken down the road to Audubon’s recycling shed.  And, if you don’t live on Jekyll, you aren’t supposed to use this drop-off site.  “This would be illegal dumping,” says Doc Brown, JIA’s Superintendent of Sanitation.

   At its drop-off center on Habersham Road, Waste Management takes only clean cardboard for recycling.  Coastal Recycling & Disposal on 4th Avenue currently takes clean cardboard and construction materials.  Glynn Iron & Metal , 511 Lanier Blvd, takes all kinds of metal and will pay you for aluminum cans.

   Glynn County itself  has gone entirely to curbside pick-up.  Southland Waste Systems holds the contract for providing the pick-up.  As with some other local recyclers, Southland processes only clean cardboard for recycling.  The rest of what they will pick up from you (aluminum cans, newsprint, junk mail, plastics 1 & 2, magazines) are taken to Jacksonville where BFI “takes them off our hands,” according to Southland’s Charlie Creveling.

There is no way at all to recycle glass or tin cans in Glynn County. 



   The complaints which GEC has been receiving stem from the lack of recycling in the City and the problems in the county with getting recycling bins and then getting recycling picked up.  The publicity which the County sent out stated that this was to be bi-weekly recycling, but in reality it is only twice-monthly, so sometimes 3 weeks pass between pick-ups.  We know that the earliest folk to sign up for the new recycling program somehow “got lost” and need to sign up again.  Original insistence that all recycling fit into the small bins provided by Southland has been changed, thankfully, to “put it in something and leave it right beside the bin” (see picture).  Still, there are problems with pick-up.  While Paul Christian, Assistant County Administrator, cites statistics to show that Southland is doing a very good job, many County Commissioners expressed frustration at all the complaints which they receive – so much so that two of them (Johnson and Lynn) refused to support a modest 2% garbage fee increase at the Commission’s April 6th meeting.


   What does the future hold?  Marcia Smith of Keep Brunswick-Golden Isles Beautiful says that recycling for businesses (office paper) is currently in the contracting process with a goal of starting this summer.  She believes that the answer to the recycling problems in the county would be a central drop-off center, but there are no plans for one as this is contrary to the County’s commitment to 100% curbside recycling.  Hal Smith of Coastal Disposal & Recycling says that they’d like eventually to have a full-service drop-off center, but this is far down the road, if ever.

You can pile your recycling around the bin, since it only gets picked up every 2-3 weeks.         Photo by Robert Randall

In our conversations with people involved in local recycling, there emerged a catch-22.  Everyone said that we don’t have enough recycled materials to make recycling economically feasible, that the markets for the materials are too far away, and the amounts paid for them are too little.  In other words, we fall short of the economy of scale “needed” for recycling to pay off.  Yet, without a good recycling program, we cannot ever develop a “sufficient” recycling stream.  Won’t there have to be sufficient investment in recycling before there can be a return?  Even more, is recycling something which has to pay for itself, or is it something which is a necessary public service in order to handle our use of materials in an environmental and ethical manner? 

So what can we do now?

 1-  If you are not yet recycling, and live in the County, get signed up.  If you are in the City, call your City Commissioner and demand that the City get a recycling program going.

 2-  If you have problems with getting a recycling bin or with your recycling getting picked up, call the County’s customer service center at 554-7111.  But don’t stop there.  Also call your County Commissioners (your District Commissioner and the 2 at-large members) and the County Administrator.
As Lois Gibbs told us, ultimately we must hold our elected officials accountable for getting the job done.
You can get the phone #’s for your Commissioners at

3- Take advantage of every opportunity to recycle.  Click here for a good one coming up. 

   At our March meeting, the GEC decided that we could not put a recycling campaign on the shoulders of our already-overworked Project Manager.  If effort is to be made on this, it will have to come from our membership.  We know that some of you are interested in recycling.  The GEC office can help you connect with one another, so call us at 466-0934 if working for a good local recycling program is something you’d like to do.



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