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New recycling center opens with tours

DULUTH - Three-year-old Lawrenceville resident Andrew Donnelly is infatuated with a DVD titled "Garbage Monsters," which demonstrates to children what happens to trash after it leaves the home. He loves it so much, his parents Steven and Janet brought him out for the grand opening of Gwinnett's rebuilt Recycling Bank on Saturday for a tour. He left a happy man with an invitation to return to see the facility's compacting equipment in action.

"He loves the recycling part of that video and has really taken to recycling," his mother Janet said. "His eyes lit up when we got here today."

His weren't the only ones either.

Nearly nine months after a fire destroyed the old recycling bank, the new center at 4300 Satellite Boulevard opened Saturday bigger and better than before, with people now able to recycle more than 30 different types of materials there hassle-free, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

According to Connie Wiggins, the director of Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, which operates the center, they had people waiting to unload recyclables an hour before opening and even had some traffic jams when the official opening took place at 10 a.m.

"We've had 110 cars come through so far and probably close to 250 people," Wiggins said just after the noon hour. "We're very excited to be back open."

And the residents who came through seemed to be excited, too. As one man drove away he uttered, "My basement's finally clean!"

Wiggins said another gentleman unloaded about 500 to 600 pounds of aluminum cans, which he'd been saving for nearly a year. She also indicated there's a good chance those cans will make their way to Greensboro, where they'll be made into more cans, which could appear back on supermarket shelves within six weeks.

"Georgia has a really good recycling market," she said.

That's partly the reason 28-year-old Duluth resident Samantha Battle had been saving her 16 garbage bags full of recyclable materials in her garage since the fire last June. She knew it was good for the planet and knew the discarded products could be used to make something else. She even made multiple trips in her Honda Civic to the center to unload it all.

"I think this is a great thing that is going to help us out a lot just so everyone can do their part," Battle said. "It helps keep the community clean and this facility is much improved. It's really huge. I'd been waiting for this to reopen for so long."

She also said she was "wowed" by the tour of the new facility.

"It's nice to see how recycling benefits us and where it all goes," she said. "I've been recycling since I was 6-years-old and this is the most I've ever learned about what happens after you make your deposit. I hope it encourages people to do more for the environment and increases consciousness."

Andrew's mother Janet shared similar sentiments.

"If we don't recycle, our kids aren't going to have resources," she said.

And saving Earth's precious resources is exactly why Meadow Creek High School sophomore Jacqueline Valadez came out to volunteer.

"It really does a lot for our planet," Valadez said of recycling. "I've learned you can pretty much recycle anything and everything."

Maybe not yet, but we're definitely getting closer.