RALEIGH, N.C. -- Expanding recycling efforts in North Carolina contributed to last year’s historic drop in its per capita disposal rate, and state environmental officials recognized Catawba County for its leadership in recycling, as shown in the state’s annual rankings of county per capita recycling rates.
Catawba County earned the top spot in the state recycling rankings, according to data compiled in the 2010-2011 North Carolina Solid Waste and Materials Management Report. Its recycling rate of more than 729 pounds per capita can in large part be attributed to the Catawba County Regional EcoComplex and Resource Recovery Facility, an innovative and interactive network of companies and operations that tries to match waste streams with the need for materials in the manufacturing of new products and energy sources. The on-site use of discarded materials in turn helps Catawba County achieve higher rates of recycling.
“Catawba County and its municipalities set a strong example for other North Carolina communities in the implementation of programs and policies that encourage waste reduction and recycling,” said Rob Taylor, Local Government Assistance team leader for the Division of Environmental Assistance and Outreach. “They do an outstanding job of recovering both traditional recyclables in curbside and drop-off programs, but also other materials like wood and pallets at the County’s innovative EcoComplex.”
Municipal and county recycling programs across the state continue to play an important role in diverting materials from landfills and delivering them to North Carolina’s recycling economy. The 2010-2011 report and analysis of solid waste management indicates that North Carolinians threw away less per capita than at any time in nearly 20 years, largely due to continuing recycling efforts as well as economic conditions.
“One of Gov. Bev Perdue’s top priorities has been and continues to be investing in our economic future and creating jobs,” said Secretary Dee Freeman of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “The growth we’re seeing in public recycling programs such as in Catawba County, brings the welcome news of more materials to North Carolina manufacturers who rely on recycled commodities as their raw materials.”
Features of note related to public recycling efforts during fiscal year 2010-11 include:
- Continued growth in the recovery of traditional recyclable materials. Local government programs collected a record tonnage of traditional recyclable materials like newspapers, magazines, cardboard, junk mail, aluminum and steel cans and plastic and glass bottles and jars. This occurred in spite of a weak consumer economy, a trend towards decreased weight of packaging, and the continued decrease in the circulation and size of newspapers.
- Plastic bottle recovery in particular has experienced significant growth since the state’s disposal ban became effective on Oct. 1, 2009, increasing 22 percent in FY 2009-10 and 23.4 percent in FY 2010-11.
- Increases in the number of curbside recycling programs and the number of citizens with access to recycling collection. During FY 2010-11 the number of publically operated curbside recycling programs grew for the third year in a row, climbing to 283 total programs from 259 in 2010 and 214 programs in 2009.
- Significant growth in local government electronics recycling programs. The number of local governments operating an electronics recycling program has more than doubled in the past five years and will continue to grow in response to the state’s electronics disposal ban and as the demand for the metals and plastics in discarded electronics continues to rise. In FY 2010-11 local governments recycled more than 7,400 tons of electronics including more than 3,000 tons of televisions, a threefold increase over the amount in the previous year.
One way the state measures the overall success of recycling in North Carolina is through its annual ranking of per capita annual recycling rates for each North Carolina county. The total recycling tonnage shown includes materials collected and managed by county programs plus the municipal programs within the county. Yard waste, tires and some special wastes are excluded from the tonnage totals to allow for consistent comparisons from year-to-year.
SOURCE: North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources