Watching Our Waste Line: Changes in recyling, solid waste schedules for holidays

Dec. 14, 2013 @ 12:12 PM

This year, Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Wednesday. Recycling makeup day is Saturday for both Dec. 28 and Jan. 4. Have your bin at the curb Saturday by 7 a.m. Solid Waste Convenience Centers will close at noon on Dec. 24 and reopen Thursday at 7 a.m. The Solid Waste Administrative Office, Orange County Landfill and associated services like Hazardous Waste recycling will be closed Dec. 24-26, reopening Dec. 27 at 7 a.m.  All county services will be closed New Year’s Day, and reopen Jan. 2 at their usually scheduled times. Check the county web page for inclement weather instructions.
At its Dec. 10 meeting, the Board of Orange County Commissioners instructed staff to proceed with plans to enable the commissioners to consider creating a Solid Waste and Disposal Service District for rural area curbside recycling service provided to 13,700 residences in the county now receiving this every-other-week service.
A Solid Waste and Disposal Service District could provide funding for the rural curbside program that was formerly funded from the County’s 3-R Reduce, Reuse Recycle fee of $38 per year. The rural curbside recycling program is currently funded from Solid Waste reserve funds but a long-term source of funding must be developed if the program is to continue. Public hearings will be scheduled to consider a Solid Waste and Disposal Service District in spring 2014.
Apartment recycling advances
Last month, Timber Hollow Apartments scored an Orange County recycling first by accepting a junk mail recycling receptacle from the county for use at its mail kiosk. All residents of its 198 apartments may now recycle unwanted mail in the new blue receptacle.  Apartment maintenance staff will empty the paper into the nearby recycling cart where they used to put it all in the Dumpster for disposal. Both Timber Hollow and neighboring Shadow Woods also distributed 20 sample recycling tote bags offered by Orange County to encourage more residential recycling. Interested apartment complexes may request a sample pack of 20 totes and also request a similar mail recycling container from the Solid Waste Department. A  departmental  representative will come out to assess the situation for mail recycling. Better than recycling the unwanted mail, residents can reduce it at the source by registering at and following the instructions is “a directory service of sites dedicated to reducing junk mail, catalogues, and other unwanted clutter from people's lives.”
Two new Hillsborough businesses were recently added to the county’s commercial recycling route: Mystery Brewing Company and Carolina Gym Supplies. Hillsborough Barbeque, Bagel Bar and The Pig Restaurant were added to the county’s commercial food waste collection program.
Compost Happens!
Recently Orange County Solid Waste Management staff helped reboot the outdoor composting bin at Club Nova in Carrboro as part of the clubhouse’s effort to reduce waste, engage members and increase the use of healthy and natural foods in their kitchen.  A member of the club enthused,  “We learned a lot about the technicalities of taking care of compost from the training. It was a really hands on experience so we were engaged and attentive.” Club Nova also has a garden and membership in a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) delivering fresh food weekly. From their commitment to cooking using fresh foods, they generate about 15 pounds of vegetable and fruit scraps weekly.   According to Club Nova staff member Kimberly Anderson, one week after the reboot, “The compost is hot and people love it!” 
The Eco-Club of Phillips Middle School recently organized and funded a “Worm Bin Make and Take” workshop for club members and select staff conducted by Orange County staff member Muriel Williman.  Nine tidy indoor composting units were taken to new homes, classrooms, and offices after the workshop.  The Eco-Club also helped start the food waste composting program in the Phillips cafeteria now in its second year.  Dan Schnitzer, sustainability coordinator for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools, made a worm bin at the workshop to keep at his Lincoln Center office.  He will place a bucket for fruit scraps in the communal break room. “My co-workers will help me feed my worms” he said. 
Green Goings on at UNC
On Dec. 9, four groups of Environmental Capstone students at UNC-Chapel Hill gave their final project presentations. . One group worked for the Green Labs Committee at UNC. The students (Jordan Beam, Holly Beilin, Katelyn Blanchard, Gregg Godwin, Anna Gustines, Akhil Jariwala, and BenTriplett) wrote a lab best practices guide for UNC .They also wrote a visioning memo for the Green Labs Committee to help reduce environmental impact of labs at UNC and reduce the life cycle cost of operating labs at UNC.
The Green Labs committee was formed in 2008 by a group of faculty, staff and students to address the unique environmental impacts that labs have on the UNC campus.  Between the wet labs, dry labs, school of medicine, chemistry, physics, animal labs, computer labs, psychology labs— there are several hundred on campus.
In addition to their research, labs on campus use four times as much energy per square foot as other campus buildings, and have unique solid waste and water consumption with hazardous chemicals that need to be disposed of properly, and other procedures that require extra handling and water use.
You can learn more about Green Labs from UNC’s Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling.
A second group worked on calculating Chapel Hill’s baseline carbon footprint (including UNC) as a first step in measuring efforts to reduce carbon emissions. As part of the overall effort, that group consisting of Claire Rosemond, Michael Everhart,  Dan Plattenberger, Jacob Mouw and Samuel Clayton-Luce calculated that solid waste collection and disposal accounted for generation of over 990,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents or 16 percent of the total carbon emissions within town limits.