Athens-Limestone Recycling Center – What Happened?

By: Lynne Hart

There have been many phone calls and personal inquiries made about the closing of the Athens-Limestone Recycling Center in Athens. We’d like to take this opportunity to shed some light on the circumstances that led to the need for closure.

Please know that the closure of our center does not affect curbside recycling for Athens City residents. All recycling collected at curbside by the Athens City Sanitation Department is transported to the Decatur Recycling Center. If you have questions about curbside recycling, please call the Athens City Sanitation Department at 256-233-8747.

Recycling in Athens began with a school project led by a science club at Athens High School in 1977. Cardboard and aluminum cans were collected to sell as a fundraiser for club activities. The scope of the recycling project became too large for the school to handle, so the club partnered with the City of Athens and the materials were moved to city-owned property in 1979. In 1980, Athens-Limestone Clean Community, which is known today as Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful, assumed the responsibilities of the program. The organization formed a board of directors (the Athens-Limestone Recycling Board) which reported to the Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful Commission, and began to search for a plant manager. The program was officially named the Athens-Limestone Recycling Center.

After several years of growth, the center outgrew its space and was moved to the current location on Lucas Ferry Rd. The property owners rented the section of property used by the center for a very reasonable monthly rent and provided a 15 year lease. Once the lease ended, rent became month-to-month with an understanding that the owners could require us to vacate the building with reasonable notice. In March of this year, the center was notified that we, in fact, needed to vacate the building. Efforts had been made over the last few years to find a new location, but we were unable to find a solution our nonprofit organization could afford. With no alternative, we had no choice but to begin the process of closure.

The staff and KALB Commission are disappointed and saddened by this turn of events; however, we do believe that others in the community who value recycling services are looking for solutions. This will, unfortunately, not solve our immediate problem and the center will close permanently. It is our hope that those interested parties will come up with a plan to reintroduce some form of recycling to the Limestone County community. It is a needed service that residents and businesses have come to depend upon.

The staff of Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful and Athens-Limestone Recycling Center and the KALB Commission wish to thank the City of Athens, the Limestone County Commission, and our loyal patrons for supporting recycling for so many years. We could not have existed for so many years without financial assistance and support from the city and the county.

Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful will always support recycling through education and any other means of support that we can provide should a new program be put in place.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at 256-233-8000.

By: Lynne Hart

Acting Co-Director – Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful