01/25/06 — Recycling could get new look

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Recycling could get new look

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on January 25, 2006 1:59 PM

Wayne County residents and businesses generate 525 tons of solid waste every day, county officials say, and the county needs to find a way to recycle more to cut down on the amount of waste that ends up at the landfill.

Residents alone create more than 400 tons of solid waste every day, Solid Waste Department Supervisor Lloyd Cook said.

"That's not from anywhere else. That's just Wayne County. That is huge. That tells me we are not recycling," County Manager Lee Smith said.

Smith said he will press for a more vigorous recycling program this year to help reduce the cost of landfill operations. State and federal law governs the disposal of solid waste. Precautions to prevent contamination of ground water are expensive. Disposal sites, or cells, have to be lined to prevent seepage. Cook said that every time the county has to expand the landfill, the cost increases.

"By not recycling, I use up the space of the landfill faster, which requires me to build one of these lined cells. And every time I build a 20-acre lot, it costs us $4 to $6 million and they last five or six years. I'm filling them up fast," Cook said.

Smith said he believes "there is a real cry for recycling, and consistent recycling, in Wayne County."

He said many people might not understand the county's waste disposal and recycling system.

The county maintains 13 solid waste disposal and recycling sites. Materials for recycling, such as plastic, glass, aluminum cans, paper and cardboard, can be dropped off if they have been separated from waste that cannot be recycled.

But not all the sites accept the same materials, Cook said.

"There are four centers in the county for metals. There are four where we pick up vegetable oil. Four others are for farmers to take their pesticide jugs for recycling. At all 13, people can drop off their used oil and batteries," he said.

At the landfill itself, waste department workers accept metal objects, such as refrigerators, washers, dryers and hot-water heaters.

Residents should know that the law requires they recycle most items, Cook pointed out.

Smith said he and other county officials have discussed the possibility of building a central recycling center that separates recyclable items from the normal stream of waste now going into the landfill. Pitt County has such a site, he said.

Cook said the county could save a great deal of waste from filling up the landfill if more businesses recycled. Construction firms create a large part of the solid waste, he said.

"If more of the commercial areas recycled, we would have a lot less going into the landfill," Cook said.

County officials and organizations such as Keep Wayne County Beautiful have formed a partnership to encourage more recycling.

Keep Wayne County Beautiful Director Simonne Cato said the organization received an $8,545 grant from the state Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance to expand paper and cardboard recycling in the commercial sector and in government offices. Paper and cardboard make up a large part of the county's waste stream, she said. The county public schools and Wayne Community College have joined the program and Mrs. Cato said she hopes more agencies and groups will follow suit.

She said the organization has also increased recycling awareness through collection events. Each year, citizens and businesses donate used printer cartridges, which benefits the environment by reducing the amount of natural resources used to make new cartridges and limiting the amount of non-biodegradable material in the county landfill, she said.

"It takes 2.5 ounces of oil to produce an inkjet cartridge and 3.5 quarts of oil to produce a laser cartridge. For every laser cartridge recycled, two quarts of oil are preserved," Mrs. Cato said, noting that recycling cartridges saves nearly 20 million gallons of oil and 27 million pounds of plastic each year .

The organization also teams up with Franklin's Recycling Co. twice a year, in March and November, for a one-day electronics collection, which is free to the public. Unwanted or obsolete computers, televisions, telephones and cell phones, can be dropped off and the recycling company collects the devices' components for reuse.