The Triangle does it right when it comes to recycling. At least the American Forest and Paper Association thinks so. Wake County Public School System was given the 2009 School Recycling Award for Feed The Bin, a program dedicated to paper recycling. During the 2007-2008 school year, Wake County schools collected 800 tons of paper to recycle. Orange County was given the Community Recycling Award for recycling 8,750 tons of paper.
In the past year alone the amount of materials collected statewide to be recycled has increased. According to the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, paper collected to be recycled increased by 5 percent, glass by nearly 10 percent and container recovery by 8,000 tons.
While this is all good news, we should strive to make our recycling programs more effective.
Landfills are still filling with e-waste—broken computers and outdated cameras, old printers and first generation GPS units. Components from e-waste are harmful to the environment when they break and the lead, mercury and other chemicals spill. Some of these products can emit methyl-mercury, which can be introduced into the food chain. Compact fluorescent lights are particularly known for emitting these vapors.
Wake County has drop-off sites where it accepts electronics, cardboard, lead-acid batteries, motor oil, telephone books and more. In Orange County, residents may dispose of unwanted computers, televisions and other electronics at the Orange County landfill or at any of the Solid Waste Convenience Centers. Durham County allows some of these items to be recycled in drop-off centers. Chatham County asks that residents recycle their e-waste materials at Swap Shops located at the Cole Park, Siler City East, Pittsboro and Bonlee recycling centers.
For city and county recycling information, see the Resource Guide.
Another way to recycle is to start a compost bin. Yard waste and kitchen scraps can be turned into usable materials for your garden.