The Downtown Birmingham Recycling Center will be moving to a new home by the end of the month. The Alabama Environmental Council, which runs the center, has announced plans to move it from its current location on Second Avenue North to a larger, newly constructed facility located in Avondale at 4330 First Avenue S. According to AEC executive director Michael Churchman, the new location will expand the center’s capabilities considerably.
“We’re going to be able to process more material, both the volume of what we already currently take, as well as additional new materials,” Churchman said.
Most notably, the recycling center will once again be able to recycle glass, a material it had previously been unable to accept due to a lack of feasible processing options. A newly refurbished glass pulverizer will enable the new location to handle glass, crushing it into a pea gravel-like mixture that has a variety of industrial and landscaping uses. Churchman said that there are plans to use some of the center’s recycled glass material to pave areas of the new lot.
The center has been collecting glass materials from restaurants since September and already has a large on-site collection of bottles that will be “the first material that’s ready to go in the pulverizer,” said Churchman. He estimated that the last time the center had accepted glass, “we were collecting about 40 tons a month.”
Shortly after opening, the center also plans to expand its list of accepted materials even further. “In addition to taking glass again, we’ll start taking TVs and monitors for electronics recycling, which we don’t currently do because of the glass that’s in them and the fee that’s necessary to recycle them,” Churchman said. “Paint is also something that we’re going to be taking pretty soon, in addition to other materials down the road like Styrofoam or polystyrene, batteries, maybe bags or CFL bulbs. That’ll just be as we go.”
Some of these items will require a small fee to be recycled — a dollar per 18-gallon tote, or three dollars for a 55-gallon drum — “just to offset the costs of this new process that we’re going to be doing down the road,” Churchman said. “If we can develop markets for the materials like we hope to, we might even be able to take that away or reduce that.”
Other plans for the new facility include a greater focus on providing educational services to the community. “We get a lot of scout groups and school groups and community groups that are interested in learning about recycling, and we just didn’t have the space [at the Second Avenue center],” Churchman said. “Here, we’re going to be able to increase our educational outreach through having space to actually show, ‘This is what happens.’”
The transition to the new center will happen “literally overnight,” Churchman said. Although no specific date for the move has been set, he said that the new site will likely be operational “by the end of the month, if not sooner.”