DeKalb County gets its own recycling center

The facility will divert and recycle thousands of pounds of household recyclables that might otherwise end up in landfills and water systems.
Recycling and trash bins in DeKalb County.

Credit: Sara Gregory

Credit: Sara Gregory

Recycling and trash bins in DeKalb County.

Dekalb County is a growing and bustling community, but, until this week, it was missing one critical component that is essential to a sustainable future: a dedicated recycling center that serves the county’s more than 750,000 residents.

To address the need, local nonprofit Live Thrive, in partnership with American Beverage, the Georgia Beverage Association and DeKalb County, has stepped in with the creation of the DeKalb Zero Waste Center. This facility, which will serve more than 308,000 households, will be similar to the permanent recycling drop-off facility Live Thrive operates in neighboring Fulton County called the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM).

Credit: Handout

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Credit: Handout

Like its counterpart in Fulton County, DeKalb County’s Zero Waste Center will feature its own CHaRM. The new facility will greatly contribute to the region’s environmental health by helping to divert and recycle thousands of pounds of household recyclables and other hard-to-recycle items that may have otherwise ended up in Atlanta’s landfills and water systems.

The DeKalb CHaRM is another piece of the puzzle that will help expand on our collective vision to establish a community that cares about creating a healthier and more sustainable environment. Specifically, the baler, which compacts recyclables into bales for easier waste sorting and transportation, is a critical component of the facility and will further improve the center’s ability to manage various recyclable materials. Most important, DeKalb residents can feel more confident that their recyclables, like plastic bottles and cans, are being remade into new materials.

The beverage industry is proud to be a part of an investment that has real impacts on communities across Georgia. In fact, over the next decade, it is expected that the DeKalb CHaRM will bring in more than 26 million pounds of new recyclables. That includes approximately 1.4 million pounds of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and 960,000 pounds of aluminum. This investment, however, is not just about the numbers. It also demonstrates the powerful impact of partnerships between businesses, government and nonprofits that support a community’s collective commitment to a cleaner future.

The collaborative effort to support DeKalb County’s CHaRM facility was made possible by the beverage industry’s Every Bottle Back initiative. Launched in 2019 by the leading American beverage companies, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Keurig Dr Pepper and in collaboration with their sustainability partners, the initiative’s main goal is to get every bottle produced by the beverage industry back to be remade into new ones.

The beverage industry is carefully designing its bottles and caps to be 100% recyclable. This means that the entire bottle can be recycled and remade over and over again. Investing in community recycling infrastructure is a clear win-win for residents and for the beverage industry — it promotes a cleaner, more circular environment and helps us get our bottles back and reduce the use of new plastic.

Initiatives such as Every Bottle Back also allow us to promote recycling best practices in our community.

This investment in DeKalb County marks the beverage industry’s second Every Bottle Back project in Georgia. The first happened in 2021 in Gwinnett County and provided residents with free curbside recycling carts. It’s promising to see the continued dedication to improving Georgia’s recycling infrastructure and expanding recycling access across the state.

The Georgia Beverage Association continues to be an advocate for creating a more sustainable environment for Georgians. Together, we can shape a better and brighter future for Georgia.

Kevin Perry is chief executive and president of the Georgia Beverage Association.