Rome and Floyd County residents can look forward to a renewed emphasis on recycling when the new recycling center in West Rome opens this summer. Floyd County Public Works Director Michael Skeen told a large group at the Rome-Floyd County ECO River Education Center that the county had not devoted much attention to promotion and education related to recycling for the last several years because the center at 405 Watters St. in North Rome just couldn’t handle much more material.

“We have more than doubled the sorting capacity at the new center,” Skeen said..

The community will move into a new recycling center at 412 Lavender Drive, part of the old Zartic complex that is being leased from Rome businessman Ira Levy. The current facility in North Rome is in the middle of a commercial and residential neighborhood.

“We run a heavy industrial operation,” Skeen said. “ Our operation needs to be set back away from the general public.”

The new facility, funded in large part by $1.379 million earmarked in the 2013 SPLOST package, is expected to be ready sometime in mid-July.

“Most of the heavy equipment is already in place,” Skeen said. “The office work we’re doing in-house with inmate labor.”

The Lavender Drive facility will have two sort lines compared to the one at the Watters Street location and everything will be done indoors at the West Rome location. “It will be a much more efficient operation, a lot less labor involved and a lot less things to go wrong,” Skeen said.

He said the additional capacity will open up a lot of additional opportunities, however, he does not see an immediate expansion of the different types of materials that can be taken in.

Skeen said only a third of the residents of Rome participate in the curbside recycling program and if he could double that it would enhance the program and keep even more material out of the Walker Mountain Landfill.

“We want to flood the city with information, not just please recycle, but how to recycle and what to recycle,” Skeen said. “If we can pick up another 20-30 percent of the city residents we can really get a lot more plastic and aluminum and paper coming in, that’s a lot more potential revenue for the center.”

Asked if the county would ever offer curbside recycling pick-up, Skeen said the size of the county made that virtually impossible.

Skeen also said he anticipated a new effort to get the city and county schools much more involved in the recycling program.

“We’ve got like 26 schools in the county and we’re really getting nothing but cardboard,” Skeen said.

Skeen also told the crowd he has already had three different inquiries from potential purchasers of the Watters Street property once it becomes available. He said he'd like to see the property improved, like Action Rent All did with the former GNTC Small Business Incubator at 90 E. Callahan St. just a block away, and returned to the tax rolls.

The recycling center will hold an electronics recycling event this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the center on Watters Street. Appointment times are required. Call the center at 706-291-5266 before 5 p.m. Friday to get a time.