08/17/06 — New rules for waste will start in September

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New rules for waste will start in September

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on August 17, 2006 1:52 PM

Bottles are forever. Just ask Simmone Cato.

Wayne County's recycling coordinator said when a person throws away a plastic bottle, he or she doesn't think twice about what happens next.

"The concept with people is 'out of sight, out of mind.' They throw something away, a hauler picks it up and takes it away. They don't see where it ends up," Mrs. Cato said.

Most every piece of waste material in Wayne County eventually ends up at the county landfill -- buried in one of the underground plastic-lined cells at the county landfill near Dudley.

And that is where it stays. Plastic bottles, glass bottles and aluminum do not degrade, no matter whether they are lying in a landfill cell or beside a highway, said Lloyd Cook, director of the county's Solid Waste Department. And space at the landfill is expensive. Each 20-acre cell costs $5 million to build. Cook said officials expect a cell to hold five years worth of waste. The cell currently in use was opened less than two years ago. Cook said it is already about 30 percent full.

To reduce the amount of solid waste going to the landfill -- and keep landfill dumping fees low -- county officials are emphasizing recycling. The latest step has been to ban corrugated cardboard from the landfill, starting Sept. 1. Anyone caught trying to get rid of corrugated cardboard in their regular waste will be fined $200 for a first offense, $400 for a second offense and $600 for any violation after that.

The fines are serious, county officials say, because the cost of dealing with solid waste has become serious. Wayne County residents and businesses currently throw away 525 tons of solid waste a day and the amount is growing.

Removing corrugated cardboard from that waste stream will significantly extend the life of a landfill cell, Cook said, because the material takes up so much space.

Not all cardboard is being banned.

Single-ply cardboard, known as pressboard, will still be permitted. That is the type of cardboard used for cereal boxes or pizza containers.

The county Board of Commissioners made the landfill self-sufficient more than a decade ago. Its operation runs on tipping fees instead of property taxes. Unless the county can continue to find ways to cut the amount of waste going into the landfill, the current tipping fee could be increased. And Wayne's fee is the lowest in the state, Cook pointed out.

"We're going after the material that takes up the largest volume -- the cardboard. Then, if we take more out, we extend the cell life even more, which saves residents money. We don't want to have to raise the tipping fee. It costs $23 a ton. That's the lowest tipping fee in North Carolina. We want to keep it that way," Cook said.

County residents and businesses will be able to dispose of corrugated cardboard at any of the 13 solid waste disposal sites around the county. Sites also have containers for recycling various materials, such as plastic bottles, glass, aluminum cans, motor oil, batteries and even eyeglasses and clothes.

Cooking oil is accepted at the Pikeville, Rosewood, Patetown and N.C. 111 drop-off sites.

The Rosewood, Pikeville, Patetown, N.C. 111, Mitchell Road and Dudley sites began accepting oil filters for recycling in May. Cook said his department is considering accepting oil filters at all of the drop-off sites.

Mrs. Cato and Cook said county officials also are looking into the possibility of banning all plastics from the landfill. That would save a great deal of cell space, they said.

The drop-off sites, referred to as convenience centers by the county, do not accept sawdust, sand, liquids, tires, logs, limbs or construction debris. Any items, such as a pizza box or milk carton, that have been contaminated by food or liquids are also unacceptable for recycling.

For more information about the cardboard ban, the county's convenience centers or recycling in general, call the Solid Waste Department at 689-2994.