BY Michelle Bliss
Recycling or reprocessing potential waste so it can be used again — and hopefully again after that — didn’t begin in the last few decades. Man’s first recorded reuse of recycled materials was in 1031 when all waste paper in
Back when all of the stegosauruses triceratops and other dinosaurs went extinct — 65 million years ago — their remains sunk to the muddy sediment at the bottom of the seabed. Those remains along with others from sea animals and plants were compressed into sedimentary rock and — with exposure to extreme heat and pressure — essentially reprocessed into what the modern world can’t stop fighting over: oil. Today that oil is mined and refined into petroleum plastics and thousands of other products.
In 1776 as
Three decades later in 1895
Another war recycling effort took place from 1939 to 1945. With 400 000 volunteers
One of the most notable contributions to modern recycling in the
How does recycling work in our corner of the coast? In
Lynn Bestul the solid waste planner for
Each type of material — mixed paper newspaper cardboard and plastic — is loaded onto the baler separately. When the recycling crew has enough bales of a single commodity to fill a truck they sell those items to a company in
Two exceptions to this process are aluminum cans and glass which are crushed. After the cans are crushed they are blown into a trailer and sold to Cohen and Green Salvage Company in
There are seven recycling drop-off sites that the county maintains: Moose Lodge 343 on Carolina Beach Rd. near Monkey Junction Lowes Foods at the intersection of Murrayville Rd. and
The WASTEC facility is an important asset to the county’s recycling program because it has an incinerator that can turn
In addition to the seven drop-off sites the county currently operates Bestul is hoping to set up shop in the northeastern end of the county. “We’re in the process of trying to find a place over towards Porters Neck ” he explains. “There are a few things that would have to come about in order to have a new site put up over there but it would be a benefit to the citizens and to the county because the more we recycle the more material we’ve kept out of the landfill.”
The county began its drop-off collection program in 1990 along with the towns of
Curbside recycling is one of Bestul’s long-term goals but since the county’s Environmental Management Department is not funded by tax dollars it must support itself through tip fees at the landfill the sale of recyclables and the sale of electricity from the WASTEC plant. “As much as I want to provide the citizens here with every possible solid waste solution there is we have to be able to pay for it ” Bestul says. “Down the road who knows if we could put it on the tax roll where each single family home condominium and apartment structure would have to pay a certain annual fee for the disposal of their waste.” This would eliminate tip fees currently paid to drop garbage now to the facility. Tipping fees charged are $51 per ton.
If that happens Bestul says the county would need to build a material recovery facility — a processing plant where reusable materials would be poured onto a system of conveyor belts stopping at different sorting stations to separate each commodity. This kind of center could handle 15 000 tons of recyclables a year saving 23 000 cubic yards at the landfill. A cubic yard equates to approximately half the size of a standard office desk. According to Bestul the county would also make a large profit — close to a million dollars — each year. This is Bestul’s vision for the future of
In Wrightsville Beach public works director Mike Vukelich says his goal is to continue providing what he feels is “the most well-maintained site in the county — it’s clean it’s labeled properly; people know exactly what to do.” The center checks its recycling containers daily and is funded through the town’s property owner’s trash fees.
Another big project for the town is the new collection program for ABC permit holders who beginning in January 2009 are required to recycle their liquor bottles and beer cans. Last fiscal year saw 45 tons of glass being picked up curbside from businesses in Wrightsville.
WB collects plastic aluminum newspaper mixed paper cardboard and glass — everything the county takes except rechargeable batteries. Bestul reports for the last fiscal year (07/08) 1 400 000 pounds — 700 tons of recyclables from Wrightsville’s center were processed through the WASTEC plant. Of this 164 tons was glass 40 tons of plastic 411 tons of fiber; newspaper and cardboard. By comparison 4 600 tons of solid waste is hauled from the town.
Vukelich says the town is not planning on providing curbside recycling any time soon: “We’ve looked into curbside recycling on several occasions and it would be very labor-intensive and expensive because the majority of the streets here are dead-end streets and there is no place to turn around.”
Without curbside recycling as an option Vukelich urges
Vukelich also points out that about half of the people who use the center are not
Even though Mother Nature began recycling long before mankind entered the picture over the last few centuries people across the country and around the world have made extensive contributions to today’s recycling procedures and efforts. Locally we’re doing our part but as recycling becomes more and more important to our planet our part could one day be bigger.
Recycling: The Facts North Carolina
GOOD: There are approximately 530 recycling businesses in
GOOD: Recovered aluminum cans save 90 percent of the energy used to make brand-new cans. For newspaper it’s 40 percent and for steel it’s 60 percent.
BAD: The amount of waste sent to landfills in
GOOD: Manufacturing recycled paper creates 35 percent less water pollution and 74 percent less air pollution.
BAD: Every week
A Clean Future: Recycling Programs in New Hanover County Schools
Jennifer O’Keefe from the county’s Keep America Beautiful program says it’s best if kids can start recycling at an early age. “If we start with the younger grades now and just make it a normal part of their everyday school life recycling will just be something that’s second-nature to them ” O’Keefe says. “And kids love it! They love recycling they love doing things that are good for the Earth. So it’s a great place to start because they will keep those habits for the rest of their lives.”
At Ogden Elementary the PTA has been gone green. Elisa Want is the leader of the Ogden Green Team as well as the Go Green chair for the New Hanover County PTA Council. Want has initiated all kinds of new programs at Ogden including Green Thumb days — when students and parents clean the schoolyard and plant trees — and recyclable art projects that let kids scour recycle bins to create structures and posters out of well just about anything. One of their most important projects was getting the school’s dishwasher fixed so that the students wouldn’t have to use and throw away Styrofoam trays every day.
Want says that the program is more than just fun and games because the kids understand the need to recycle. “They are just so excited to be a part of helping the environment and trying to make things better for themselves. They know that what they’re doing is helping themselves in the long run saving their planet and making their world a better healthier place.”