By Laura Turner Seydel

Seven years ago I helped launch the Atlanta Recycles organization and continue to serve on its steering committee. Atlanta Recycles is an advocacy group made up of governmental, corporate, non-profit and environmental entities with a shared mission to promote recycling in the Atlanta area.

The steering committee consists of experts, with various recycling backgrounds, who come together once a month to share new trends in recycling, showcase success stories, as well as share avenues and tools that help make recycling more successful. We transform this shared knowledge into real results for Atlanta.

In late 2009, Atlanta Recycles’ efforts were realized with the establishment of a 10,000 home pilot program that gave residents larger 96-gallon recycling carts and encouraged them to recycle through an incentive program.  These carts are capable of holding significantly more recyclables than the smaller 18 gallon recycling bin.  Results were positive, and just recently the city of Atlanta started providing these larger carts to residents, upon request, outside the initial 10,000 home pilot program.
Atlanta Recycles has also assisted in expanded collection of recyclables at city buildings, recreation centers, police and fire stations. Now, what can be recycled at home can be recycled at City Hall.

Atlanta Recycles was also instrumental in the development of the Downtown Zero Waste Zone. Focused on the foodservice industry, members pledge to recycle paper, plastic, metal and glass, compost food scraps and reuse old grease from their kitchens. These restaurants and venues are leading the charge to zero waste in Atlanta.

Currently, Atlanta Recycles is also involved with policy initiatives that support recycling, in addition to being instrumental in developing the Multi-family Recycling Toolkit. This toolkit assists property owners of multi-unit buildings to establish recycling programs in compliance with the city’s multi-family recycling ordinance.

There are a number of exciting things happening with Atlanta’s recycling and sustainability initiatives. This year Denise Quarles was hired as the city’s new sustainability director and, like Mayor Kasim Reed, she is committed to transforming Atlanta into a top tier sustainable city. The city of Atlanta has also hired Jacqueline Bridges as the new recycling manager. Jacqueline recently relocated from Chicago and will be responsible for recycling programs in the city of Atlanta. She is enthusiastically promoting recycling and will be revealing new initiatives for Atlanta very soon. We are excited to have their expertise.

I’m really looking forward to what the future brings for Atlanta’s sustainability and recycling efforts. We are at the forefront of great progress.

For more from Laura Turner Seydel, visit

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

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