Watching Our Wasteline: County to explore recycling options

Apr. 20, 2013 @ 01:06 PM

At Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting to be held at Southern Human Services Center at 7 p.m., the board has scheduled a public hearing on the options of ways to continue the county’s recycling programs. Initially the hearing was specifically about creating a solid waste and recycling private franchise to provide collection services in unincorporated Orange County. Now the board will consider other options of ways to provide and finance recycling services for the whole county. Currently the county is using the 3-R Fee for financing urban curbside, rural curbside, multifamily, commercial collection, drop-off, hazardous waste, electronics, government buildings collection, public solid waste education, event recycling and a variety of other related services, but portions of that fee are slated to be discontinued after June 30, 2013, which is why other strategies need to be considered now.
Over the past two months, several meetings have featured discussion about the possible changes to the county’s recycling programs in the coming years.  At their April 9 meeting, the board considered eight options (see the options on agenda item 7B at, eliminated several including private franchising, and adopted a draft set of system goals listed below against which to evaluate the various remaining options. According to their motion on April 9, the goals for any system adopted to finance and operate recycling will:
-- Be cost-efficient
-- Maximize recycling
-- Maximize equity
-- Be fair to staff and private haulers
-- Advance the possibility of comprehensive waste reduction in partnership with the towns.
The three remaining options according to the draft motion on April 9 include:
Creation of a solid waste tax district that could include the towns and unincorporated Orange County to provide funding for the discontinued portion of the 3-R Fees;  
Creation of a solid waste authority for either a long term or alternative option that would take over providing the County wide recycling and some solid waste services like convenience centers; and
An option that would have a basic level 3-R fee with no curbside recycling or Multi-family recycling, but only operate convenience centers and drop-off sites and other services listed above like hazardous wastes, public education etc. 
Tuesday night’s meeting will present another opportunity for members of the public to express their ideas and thoughts about what type of recycling program and program funding mechanisms may serve Orange County best. An agenda item will be posted to the county’s website by the time this article is published and may be viewed at:, or a hard copy may be obtained by calling the clerk’s office at 919-245-2300.

Spring Shred-a-thons 
Two post-tax season Shred-A-Thons for destruction of confidential paper are coming up Thursday at University Mall in Chapel Hill and Saturday behind Home Depot at Hampton Pointe in Hillsborough at the recycling drop-off site. Both events are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and are open to all residents and small businesses in Orange County and that part of Chapel Hill in Durham County as well as employees of all local governments in Orange County. There is a limit of 10 “banker” boxes or bags, one trip per person.  Paper should be free of plastic, metal, computer disks or other non-paper items. Incidental paper clips and staples are OK. Individuals may recycle their cardboard boxes at nearby recycling sites and plastic bags at nearby grocery stores including Harris Teeter at University Mall and Walmart at Hampton Pointe.
The events are put on cooperatively by the Chapel Hill Police Department, Partnership for a Sustainable Community and Orange County Solid Waste Management Department.  The eight events over the past three years have been very popular. The October 2012 events drew more than 1,000 people and collected over 20 tons of paper. The recovered paper is recycled to make tissue paper, printing paper and other paper products.

Spring Events: reduce, reuse, recycle, compost and volunteer!
A Student Move-out Reuse Rodeo will be held in the Hargraves Center parking lot on Mitchell Lane in Chapel Hill May 7-10 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. Before students ride out of town, we hope they (and others!) will donate used but useful goods to these participating charities: clothing, small furniture and usable housewares in good condition to the PTA Thrift Store to support local families and schools; cellphones (and chargers if possible) to the Compass Center for women and families; working computers and computer accessories for job training programs; unused school supplies and book bags in good condition for Hargraves back to school programs; and unopened food, personal care items and clean reusable cloth bags to the Interfaith Council.
Representatives from these organizations and Orange County Solid Waste Management will staff the event to accept the materials and take them away at the end of each collection day. Please do not bring items that are not listed here, nor should you bring items outside the collection hours. The goals of this event are to reduce move-out waste and support reuse in our community! Questions about move-out waste reduction? Email
Orange County Solid Waste seeks several volunteers for Carrboro Day, Sunday, May 5, from 12:30-6:30 p.m. to enjoy this annual community festival, food trucks and local music, while collecting recyclable cans and bottles.
Orange County Solid Waste also seeks volunteers for EXTREME waste diversion at Hillsborough Hog Day. Tasks include staffing trash sorting stations for composting and recycling and roving recycling bins while enjoying the great food, music and crafts at Hog Day, Friday evening May 17 and all day Saturday, May 18. Volunteers get a free T-shirt, BBQ sandwich and loads of appreciation. Volunteer hours are service learning appropriate for high school students.  If interested, please contact Muriel Williman or call 919-968-2788.
Orange County Department of Environment, Agriculture, Parks and Recreation is hosting Earth Evening, Friday from 6-8 p.m. during Hillsborough Art Walk at the Farmers Market Pavilion in River Park, Hillsborough. Activities will include Children and Adult Environmental Programs and crafts.  Earn about our local environment and local government involvement from Orange County Parks, Library, Planning, Animal Services, Natural Resources, Soil and Water, 4H and Master Gardeners.  Visit the Orange County Solid Waste Management booth to drop off fluorescent bulbs, cellphones, and used cooking oil for recycling.  Participants young and less young can make a pine cone bird feeder or leaf print stationery, play water puzzle games and much more.
Events for Earth Month have involved Orange County’s Solid Waste Management Department providing services, information and event support including the Northside community clean up on April 14, Science Expo at UNC Chapel Hill, 98 percent waste diversion at the Annual Carrboro Community Dinner, and tabling at Lowe’s Home Improvement Store for Earth Day.  Do you have your own upcoming event and want to reduce your waste? Contact us at or call 919-968-2788.
The Orange County Landfill will close in 70 days.