Published: Jun 26, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Jun 26, 2012 05:49 PM
CHAPEL HILL - Orange County is about to make your recycling life easier.
Starting July 1, local residents will no longer have to separate their curbside recyclables into paper and everything else. You won’t even have to look for a newspaper- or glass-only bin when you bring your recyclables to the local solid waste convenience center.
The move to “single-stream” recycling follows the practice many N.C. counties have already adopted. It’s aimed at keeping more material that can be recycled out of the landfill, or wherever Orange County’s rash ends up once the county landfill on Eubanks Road closes in June 2013.
It should also prove more efficient, saving staff time, fuel and maintenance costs on the collection trucks. Right now the trucks often have to return to the dumping pad on Eubanks Road only partly full, since the side for bulky bottles, cans and jars tends to fill up sooner than the side for paper. With all the recyclables mingled together, the trucks can stay on the road until they’re full.
Comingled recycled materials will earn the county less, but over time collecting more materials and the savings through hauling efficiency and keeping more garbage out of the landfill could prove a wash, officials at Orange County Solid Waste Management say.
“It’s definitely a tradeoff,” said Muriel Williman, education and outreach coordinator. “You may not get as much money for your collectables, but you get more tonnage.”
Orange County leads the state in waste reduction. The county has cut its waste stream, 56 percent per person compared to the 1991-92 base year. The county’s goal is 61 percent.
But nearly 20 percent of the material ending up at the landfill doesn’t need to, Williman said.
Of 47,300 tons landfilled last year, 10,400 tons could easily have been recycled curbside and another 3,800 tons of materials like rigid plastics could have been recycled at the solid waste convenience centers, she said.
“There’s still certainly room for improvement,” she said.
Although the county does earn money for its recycled materials, it pays only a fraction of the cost of the program.
It costs the county nearly $4 million to recycle, Almost all of it, 96 percent, is paid by a 3R fee charged to every housing unit in Orange County. The fee (waste Reduction Reuse and Recycling) consists of a $37 annual base fee, plus $52/year for weekly curbside pickups in the towns or $38/year for every-other-week pick up in the rest of the county. There is also a $19 per unit annual charge assessed to apartment complex owners.