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Talkin’ trash: As economy stirs, volume is up (access required)

By Sam Boykin Jimmy Hawk loves trash. In fact he’s been dealing with refuse and waste for the majority of his 33 years.  As a kid growing up in New York, he spent a lot of his time “hanging off the back of a garbage truck” with his dad, a career trash man. And where others just saw discarded banana peels, crumpled paper cups and coffee grinds, Hawk saw a business opportunity. After researching cities along the east coast, Hawk and his brother Frankie moved to Charlotte and with some financial help from their parents started Hawk Sanitation and Recycling in 1996. At first it was just the two of them driving around in a truck and picking up trash at a handful of businesses. Today, the operation, still family owned, has 42 employees, and processes 600 tons of waste per month. And after a bit of belt tightening during the recession, Hawk said that since January they’ve experienced an uptick, and business has increased about 30 percent from last year. Garbage is often seen as a barometer of our economy. In tough times, households and businesses are more likely to get as much life as they can out of what they have, whereas in prosperous times, the thinking goes, it’s out with the old and in with the new. And as more stuff is cast away, more stuff is being made. This doesn’t exactly bode well for the environment, but it’s an indicator that things are improving nonetheless.

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