12/31/06 — Cardboard ban boosts interest in recycling

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Cardboard ban boosts interest in recycling

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on December 31, 2006 2:04 AM

Wayne County's ban on corrugated cardbord has not only succeeded in saving space in the county's landfill, but has encouraged residents to recycle other items, officials say.

County officials enacted the carbboard ban this fall, ordering waste haulers and residents to find more environmentally friendly ways to dispose of their boxes or to face a fine.

"As a general rule, the public has accepted the cardboard ban," Wayne County Solid Waste Director Lloyd Cook said.

The ban has stopped 800 tons of corrugated cardboard, which is the kind of multi-layer material large items are packaged in, from September to November. That amount exceeds the expected 200 tons of cardboard per month the county wanted to remove from the landfill's underground plastic-lined cells.

Each 20-acre cell costs the county $5 million to build. The cells are built to hold about five years worth of waste. Limiting the amount of waste extends the life of a cell, which could save the county thousands and even millions of dollars over time.

If the current trend continues, the ban could save more than 10,000 tons of space at the landfill over the next five years, Cook said.

The landfill runs its operations on tipping fees instead of property taxes. Limiting the amount of waste at the landfill allows the county to keep its tipping fee of $23 per load as one of the lowest in the state.

But the ban has been a harder pill for haulers to swallow, he added.

Each time a hauler brings a load to the landfill containing corrugated cardboard, that hauler is charged a fee, Cook said.

Anyone caught trying to get rid of corrugated cardboard in their regular waste is charged $200 for the first offense, $400 for the second and $600 for each subsequent offense, Cook said.

More than 50 loads trying to enter the landfill with corrugated cardboard have been penalized, for a total of about $3,000 in fees, Cook said.

Waste Industries and Onslow Container Services officials both said soon after the ban went into effect that they were not fully informed of how the fees would be issued. Both companies also expressed concerns that they would have to pay the entire fee for infractions caused by their customers.

Despite those initial concerns, Cook said he hasn't received any compliant calls in the past four months.

"All of the calls I've gotten are people asking what corrugated cardboard is and what they need to do with it," Cook said.

Many have chosen to go to take their cardboard and other waste to one of the county's 13 recycling convenience centers, Cook said.

"We're starting to see more plastics, glass, cans and cardboard at the convenience centers for recycling," Cook said. "Some people have chosen to take all of their stuff to the convenience centers."

County convenience centers are located in Dudley, Eureka, Fremont, Grantham, Indian Springs, Jordan Chapel, Patetown, Pikeville, Rosewood, Seven Springs and off of U.S. 13, N.C. 111 and Mitchell Road. Those sites 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. And the Rosewood, Pikeville, Patetown, N.C. 111, Mitchell Road and Dudley sites began accepting oil filters for recycling in May.

But without the cardboard ban, many residents wouldn't have started dropping off their other recyclable goods at the convenience centers, Cook said.

"This is working very well and doing exactly what we wanted it to do," he said.

The cardboard ban's success could see the implementation of more landfill bans next year. But Cook said he doesn't want to get ahead of himself just yet.

"We will look at other programs, but I'm not sure what we're going to do. A lot of that depends on the market for recycled goods, he said.

"We're always looking at other things we can recycle and we'll take a look at everything."

For more information on recycling or the corrugated cardboard ban, call the Solid Waste Department at 689-2994. Information is also available on the county's Web site, www.waynegov.com, by selecting the "departments" and then the "solid waste" links.