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Public recycling programs contribute to record low disposal rates; state rankings profile the most effective recycling communities in North Carolina


RALEIGH – North Carolina recorded the lowest per-capita rate for solid waste disposal in 2013 since measurement began in 1991, continuing a steady downward trend in disposal per person that started in 2006.

Public recycling programs across the state are contributing to this trend by providing services that divert materials from disposal and return them to the state’s recycling economy.

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources collects data on disposal and public recycling programs each year, tracking progress being made in recycling efforts.

“The business of recycling is an increasingly dynamic contributor to the North Carolina economy and public recycling programs serve as a critical link in the supply chain delivering materials to industry,” said Scott Mouw, state Recycling Program director in the Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service.

The nature of materials collected and managed by public recycling programs continues to change, as does the types of recycling services provided. Fiscal Year 2012-13 saw the launch of the state’s first public program collecting food waste from citizens for composting in Orange County. More citizens than ever have access to curbside recycling, with 315 public curbside recycling programs serving more than 1.84 million N.C. households. Efforts to collect special wastes such as electronics, fluorescent lights and used cooking oil also grew last year. Public recycling programs have tripled the amount of construction and demolition waste they recycle in the last ten years, with more public programs collecting used shingles for use as an ingredient in asphalt pavement.

DENR uses municipal and county report data to profile public recycling efforts and to measure the per-capita recycling rates for each county in the state. Counties are then ranked based on their program performance. A copy of the rankings for FY 2012-13 is included below. Counties are ranked in two different ways: first based on their total recycling of all materials, and second based on their recycling of common household recyclables. In each case, data on the recovery of yard waste and tires is excluded from the totals to allow for consistency. Tire and yard waste generation can vary widely from year to year and by region based a number of conditions.

The per capita recovery rate for common household recyclables helps compare the relative effectiveness of residential recycling services, while total recycling measures broader community efforts. Communities ranked high on each list offer examples of the most effective recycling programs in North Carolina.

“Catawba, Pitt, Dare, Orange and Watauga Counties have demonstrated longstanding leadership, and continue to serve as models for the rest of the state by operating an array of programs that target a wide range of materials” said Rob Taylor, DENR’s Local Government Recycling Assistance team leader.

Onslow and Currituck Counties continue to improve their performance by growing their recovery of common household materials, while Pasquotank and Cumberland Counties push towards the top of the Total Public Recycling list through efforts that target materials such as concrete, bricks and shingles. Pitt and Catawba Counties have traded places for the number 1 and number 2 spots on the Total Public Recycling list for the last several years, with Catawba County reclaiming the top spot for FY 2012-13.

For information on recycling and solid waste disposal, see the FY 2012-13 North Carolina Solid Waste and Materials Management Annual Report at: .

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