Watching Our Wasteline: Roll cart update and holiday pickup schedules

Aug. 16, 2014 @ 01:56 PM

More than 18,000 95-gallon roll carts have now been distributed for the urban weekly recycling. With a very few minor exceptions, all residences now have carts and operational modifications to the program to ensure efficiencies are ongoing. No tonnage figures are available yet to compare July 2014 to July 2013 to look for performance changes. Check here next month.

Now that the urban program implementation is complete, staff has begun planning for deploying roll carts in the rural recycling service area. As part of the fiscal year 2014-15 capital budget, the board authorized $378,000 for purchase of about 7,000 roll carts for use in the unincorporated rural area curbside recycling program. Once implemented, $75,000 of that will be reimbursed through a grant from North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service (NC DENR-DEACS).  Further program information will be forthcoming to residents of those rural areas with curbside recycling available.

Near-term future route expansion to areas identified previously of about 1,600 residences that can be serviced with existing resources may also be included later in the year contingent on responses received from the current service area and available resources.

The annual recycling tonnage for various programs operated by Orange County is now in for fiscal year 2013-14. Comparing with the prior year, urban curbside tonnage increased 31 percent and rural curbside up 3 percent. City and county schools and government building collections, drop-off sites and food waste tonnage were up as well. We saw declines in apartment and commercial recycling tonnage. The table below summarizes tonnage from various recycling programs last year compared to the prior year.

Orange County Recycling Tonnage from Various Programs 2013-14 vs. 2012-13


Tons 2012-13

Tons 2013-14

Percent Change

Urban curbside




Rural curbside




Drop Off, Cardboard & Mixed Paper




Schools & Local Governments








Commercial cans, bottles, paper




Commercial Food Waste




Rigid Plastics 2,4 & %  (purple bins)









The town of Carrboro, with help of a state grant from NCDENR-DEACS, installed nine blue metal downtown pedestrian recycling receptacles containers along Weaver, Greensboro and Main streets earlier this year. The contents are collected by Orange County staff who report them as being well-used with not too much contamination. Most contamination now is various types of cups.  No beverage cups can be recycled in this program. Staff report that 2 carts full of recyclables and a half cart of contaminants were collected last week from those receptacles up from ½ a cart earlier in the summer, adding to the 3 to 4 carts full gleaned weekly from the fourteen pedestrian containers along Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.  

Carrboro opted for a design very similar to its trash cans, distinguishing the recycling containers from trash cans with labeling at the mouth and a white informational band rather than a distinct type receptacle. Chapel Hill’s approach was to use a very distinct size, shape receptacle, and a different type opening along with labeling along the vertical face for its recycling containers.

For Labor Day, curbside recycling will be collected as usual. Have bins or carts to the road by 7 a.m. Sept. 1. The landfill and all related services like hazardous waste and mulch sales will be closed. The solid waste convenience centers and the Solid Waste Administrative office will be closed.

As UNC gears up for the new semester, thousands of students are returning to town, most with many corrugated cardboard boxes in tow. A lot of new families, also with boxes, are moving in just before the public school year begins. Cardboard boxes (except pizza boxes) are banned from the waste anywhere in Orange County and must be recycled. They must be placed in the blue recycling roll carts for those using carts at the curb. Apartment dwellers must place cardboard in separate Dumpsters or dropoff areas designated by their property manager, not in the roll carts. No cardboard outside the carts will be collected. In the rural area with orange bins up to 10 pieces may be placed in, under or between the bins, limited to a size of 3’x3’ . All other cardboard can be brought to a dropoff site or convenience center. Those with really huge loads may use the Orange County landfill at no cost for only cardboard. Landfill hours are 7am to 3pm M-F and 8am to noon Saturdays.

Dan Schnitzer, sustainability coordinator for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, reports that the school district continued its composting and food waste collection program at four schools last year using school system funding. This year they are expanding the program to all district elementary and middle schools.   The increase in diverting organic waste including paper trays to composting should further reduce the districts landfill dumpster costs.  The addition of increased education and access to landfill alternatives Schnizter says can help drive the district’s waste costs down while having a positive environmental impact. 


Going back to school – buy recycled, reusable and reused goods to reduce waste


·  Look for products that include recycled content. Recycled paper and notebooks are easy to find at Staples or our local Office Supplies and More in Timberlyne Shopping Center on Weaver Dairy Rd. Look for other school supplies made from recycled content too, such as scissors, pens, pencils, and tape.

·  Look through last year’s supplies first to determine what is still needed before you shop.

·  Invest in rechargeable batteries if you need batteries for calculators or other electronics. 

·  Purchase a durable lunch bag or box, refillable beverage container, reusable utensils, and reusable containers for sandwiches and snacks. Involve your kids in the purchase!  There are colorful and sleek designs for food carrying these days, so pick something they will like to use every day that works in the kitchen too, and that they will remember to bring home.  Try Twig at Village Plaza on Elliott Rd.

·  Consider organizing a swap for gently used back to school items with families in your neighborhood, or give unwanted clothes, sporting equipment, and school supplies to charity.

·  Orange Congregations in Mission Thrift Shop and The PTA Thrift Store offers bargains on essentials for school, including FREE three ring binders at the Carrboro location PTA Thrift store.

·  Give books on your assigned reading list a longer shelf life and save money by buying used or borrowing from the public libraries in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough.

·  Consider options for transportation to and from school. Taking the bus, carpooling, and walking or biking to school will help you save on gas, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide exercise.