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Environmentally Speaking

The Division of Waste Management’s extensive work to protect the environment and public health can be seen across North Carolina. Several sites along Peace Street in the heart of Raleigh near the Capital Boulevard Corridor are getting a facelift through the division’s environmental work, allowing them to be redeveloped to spur economic development.

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What happens to the black plastic film or mulch that sits on mounds of newly planted produce on North Carolina’s nearly 50,000 farms? A project supported by Waste Reduction Partners, North Carolina State University extension agents, the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and other partners is pursuing ways to improve the field collection process to prepare this plastic for recycling.

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Some North Carolina communities have found ways to turn trash into treasure – with the help of the department’s Brownfields and Pre-Regulatory (PRLF) Landfill programs. Wilmington is home to the Cape Fear Regional Soccer Complex – a park that houses seven full-size soccer fields on top of the old Flemington Landfill that closed in the late 1970s. The seven existing fields occupy the northern half of a former landfill property and were redeveloped in 2007 by Cape Fear Soccerplex, LLC (CFS) under a North Carolina Brownfields Agreement.

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The term “energy” is normally associated with big power plants and turbines pumping electricity to our homes. But that’s not the case everywhere. At the Jackson County Green Energy Park in Dillsboro, North Carolina, energy is turned into art. Jackson County Green Energy Park is unique because it gets its energy from an unlikely source: landfill gas, which is given off when organic materials decompose in landfills. The gas is a natural byproduct of decomposition, and it is approximately 50 percent methane and 50 percent carbon dioxide, with a small percentage of other gases.

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At this year’s Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESI) Conference, DEQ Secretary Michael Regan had one message: we’re all environmentalists. From business leaders to students to ESI stewards, environmentalists see that environmental stewardship and economic development go hand-in-hand. “I believe in our shared mission,” said Secretary Regan. “One that suggests we are a network of neighbors, friends, problem-solvers, community and business leaders who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change.”

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Started in 2002, the Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESI) has been a long-standing resource for many North Carolina companies looking to reduce their environmental impacts. “The ESI is a voluntary program with 197 member sites that was established to stimulate the development and implementation of programs that use pollution prevention and innovative approaches to meet and exceed regulatory requirements,” said ESI Manager Angela Barger. This is especially true for DENSO Manufacturing North Carolina, ESI’s first 15-year Steward, which is the highest level of achievement in the program.

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Last month, staff from the Division of Mitigation Services participated in the National Mitigation Banking Conference in Minneapolis where topics of conversation included North Carolina’s in-lieu fee program and utilizing technology for environmental monitoring. Those topics and the work of the division are critical to the protection of North Carolina’s environment. North Carolina is one of the fastest growing states in the country and when streams and wetlands are impacted during the course of development, compensatory mitigation is a means of offsetting the impact.

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