Blue Bin Basics By Melissa Sutton-Seng
PPROXIMATELY 70% of the material
dumped in landfills could be
recycled or composted. We
throw away a lot of things
that could have another useful life, but aside
from that lost potential, why is recycling so
important, not only to environmentalists but
also to local governments?
Recycling conserves resources and
prevents pollution. It also creates jobs and
often saves energy compared to producing
new materials. An oft-overlooked element of
the equation is landfill use. As University of
North Carolina Wilmington Recycling Coor-dinator
Feletia Lee explains, when a landfill
is exhausted, governments (read: taxpayers)
have to pay more to build a new one or to
truck garbage outside the municipality to
someone else’s landfill.
There are many reasons to recycle, and
every individual is an important link in the
Not everything placed in a curbside recy-cling
bin will be recycled into a new product.
For a variety of reasons, many of those items
wind up in the landfill. Yes, even ones with a
Above left: An array of recyclables is processed at New Hanover County’s materials recovery facility. Above, center and right and opposite: Sorted
and bundled recyclables await pickup at the UNCW Recycling facility.
april 2021 18
numbered recycling symbol on the bottom.
Guidelines vary across municipalities depend-ing
on the infrastructure in the area and the
existence of markets for recyclable materials.
With so many recyclable goods being
thrown into a landfill, it might be tempting
to toss everything into a recycling bin and
hope for the best. But such “wish-cycling”
(also known as aspirational recycling) bogs
down the system and contributes to a reduc-tion
in recyclables being processed. With a
little bit of know-how, anyone can go from
wish-cycler to super-cycler in no time.
WBM FILE PHOTO
WHAT, WHERE & HOW to recycle in the Cape Fear Region