Why are there no recycling bins at Dollywood?

The Sevier Solid Waste Composting Facility opened in 1991. / (WVLT)
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SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- You may have noticed there are no recycling bins at Dollywood. So how is waste in Sevier County composted and recycled? A Dollywood spokesperson gave some behind-the-scenes details.

Wes Ramsey, a Dollywood employee, said nearly 70 percent of their waste is composted and recycled, and Sevier County is one of the first to use large rotating drums to break down trash to compost. Environmental Health and Safety Director of Sevier County Solid Waste Laura Howard said, however, that rotating drums create compost and divert 60 percent of the waste from the landfill. The waste facility actually reaches 70 percent through cardboard recycling and residential drop-off recycling.

Read more about waste upkeep in Sevier County here

According to Ramsey, the rotating digesters minimize the amount of trash that ends up in landfills.

Ramsey said the facility accepts waste from Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Sevier County and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Ramsey added.

He added that all of the trash collected is mixed with bio-solids and put into the digesters for three days. During this time items like food and paper become compost.

The compost is then moved through sifters where items like plastic and glass are removed and recycled, Ramsey said. After the sifting process, the compost is placed in windrows where it breaks down further. Weeks later, the compost is sifted once again before Grade A compost is produced.

Howard reached out to WVLT News to correct this claim and said that items like plastic and glass are not recycled. "They are removed from the compost and landfilled. Therefore, it's important for people to take their recycling to drop-off recycling facilities. If Dollywood had recycling bins, these items could be collected to be recycled." She added that their composting process "has no impact on recycling."

Ramsey said Sevier County residents can get free bags of the compost for their own use at home. Local farmers can also use the compost for their fields. Howard said residents can get the compost, but it is not bagged.

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