Florence landfill issues will not affect campus trash

A UNA custodial worker tosses waste into a dumpster on campus. UNA, among many other entities in the Shoals, produces a significant percentage of the solid waste thrown away at the Florence Landfill.

The city of Florence’s partial closing of a landfill in late January will not significantly affect UNA’s disposal of trash and other debris from the campus.

On Jan. 31, the municipal dumping cell of the Florence landfill will close, leaving open only the industrial dumping ground, but, according to city officials, it will not hamper UNA as the new semester begins.

“The landfill is divided into two sections-the municipal part that takes household-type material and the industrial part that takes construction-like material, like limbs and debris,” said David Koonce, manager of Florence’s Department of Solid Waste and Recycling. “That really won’t affect UNA as much as other places. We pick up most of their municipal garbage, and the stuff they typically take would go in the construction side.”

The municipal household garbage that UNA typically produces is placed into dumpsters across campus, and even with the closing of the dumping site, the city of Florence will transport the trash to a different site, according to Koonce.

With the number of students on campus during the fall and spring semesters, the university creates a large amount of garbage.

“We have more (people) on campus than any other place in Florence,” said Michael Gautney, director of Facilities Administration and Planning. “Even take the people in ECM; we have more people on campus. Not to say that there aren’t things that we need to do to recycle through things, but I think we’re on the right track.”

According to Gautney, the university spends up to $40,000 a year on disposing garbage, with the main costs dedicated to the transport and emptying of dumpsters and some industrial items that are carried to the dumpster.

“Rice and Rivers are our largest, ranging from $12 to $940 a month,” Gautney said. “Those are the same every month; that all totals up to 95 percent of it that goes out by dumpster.”

The university ground crew also collects garbage on campus every morning from 6:30 to 7:30, but the garbage they collect that will not fit into dumpsters usually is considered industrial waste and can go into the landfill cell that will remain open.

“Realistically, while the closing does affect Florence, it won’t really affect many people because they may just have to go a little bit further because (a transfer station) will be open in Petersville,” Koonce said.

The garbage that goes to the Petersville transfer station will eventually end up in a landfill in Walnut, Miss., according to Koonce.

Even discounting the Petersville transfer station, there other possible dumping grounds for anyone in the area that needs to dispose of household garbage, including the City of Decataur’s landfill and the county landfill.

The university is also working on a program, in cooperation with the Student Government Association, to improve recycling on campus and cut down on the amount of trash that goes to the landfill.

According to Gautney, the university received a grant through the city to purchase recycling bins and a trailer to carry recyclable garbage to a nearby recycling center.