Saturday marked the start of the eighth annual Mayors’ Recycling Challenge, a two-month program sponsored by the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce to keep residents actively recycling.

“The chamber created it through the Going Green initiative,” chamber president and CEO Pam Carnes said. “The former mayor of Waleska, Doris Jones, was on the Going Green committee and was the one who spurred its creation.”

Running from June 1 until July 31, all five cities of Cherokee County will continue to collect recyclables from residents just like they usually do, although the amounts taken in at each collection will be calculated up to add to the latest total for each city. Carnes said a final tally of all the amounts collected during the challenge will take place in August, with the winners to be announced at a chamber event in September. Winning cities will be selected based on how much recyclable material was gathered per capita, as well as which city saw the greatest increase in collected items compared to its 2018 numbers.

During the competition, the chamber works with the sanitation agencies picking up the recyclables, while the cities themselves are responsible for marketing and promoting the challenge to business and residents, encouraging more people to get involved and recycle as much as possible, according to Carnes. She added that, the more creative and original cities can get with their marketing campaigns, the better.

Despite encouraging residents in all five cities to recycle as much as they can during the challenge, Carnes said there will be no change to the kinds of items being picked up by the collectors. Instead, the sanitation agencies will be collecting the same kind of materials they have in the past.

Since the first challenge was held in 2012, it has grown into a major recycling effort across the county, with more and more being collected each year. According to Carnes, the 2012 event brought in 306,260 pounds of recyclable materials, while the 2018 challenge collected more than 1 million pounds.

“This has absolutely been a successful program,” Carnes said.

With every city in the county doing its best to try and win the challenge, Carnes said she has heard positive things from the municipalities, sharing how much they appreciate the partnership with the chamber and the chance to have a competition for a good cause.

When the winners are announced at the chamber function in September, Carnes said certificates of participation will be given to all of the cities, while the two winners will also receive plaques they can display in city hall.

“Bragging rights are probably the biggest thing,” Carnes said. “It’s a good, friendly competition.”

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