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RALEIGH – North Carolina has for the second straight year set a record for the lowest solid waste disposal rate since measurement of tonnage deposited in the landfill began in 1991, according to data released Thursday by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The record-breaking disposal rates are helped by local government recycling programs, which are making progress in removing valuable materials from the waste stream and returning them to the economy. Among the state’s recycling leaders are Pitt and Catawba counties, where public recycling efforts combined to recycle more than 700 pounds of materials per person during the past year. Recycling efforts in these communities include a broad range of programs addressing household recycling and services for commercial, industrial and constructions wastes.

“We are pleased to see the progress that municipal and county recycling programs are making,” said John Skvarla, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “Recyclable commodities are increasingly important feedstocks for North Carolina manufacturers, and community collection services are a vital part of the material supply chain.”

DENR tracks data statewide about recycling and disposal rates, and then publicizes its findings along with two different rankings of community recycling programs each spring. The latest rankings of community recycling programs can be found at the bottom of this news release.

The report made a number of encouraging findings, including that:

· The collection of common household recyclable materials such as paper, glass and plastics as well as construction debris and electronics, increased in fiscal 2011-12, helping North Carolina exceed 300 pounds per capita of recycling through municipal and county programs, according to the report.

· Recovery of common household recyclables rose in fiscal 2011-12 by about 2 percent from the previous year, approaching 500,000 tons collected statewide.

· Curbside recycling services are expanding and improving, giving more North Carolinians convenient opportunities to recycle.

· A record-breaking 298 curbside programs served 1.8 million households across the state in fiscal 2011-12, jumping up 7 percent in one year.

· Collection of electronics such as television sets and computers also saw a big increase, almost doubling in tonnage as more communities offered collection programs.

Some materials, such as large appliance metals, declined slightly, in part because healthy metal prices prompted residents to take the large appliance metals to private scrap yards instead of county drop-off sites, the report states. The state agency also found that community collection of special wastes, such as used oil, oil filters, batteries, and household hazardous materials, stayed relatively flat.

In general, the momentum in local recycling programs is helping suppress the state’s dependence on solid waste landfills, said Scott Mouw, the state’s recycling coordinator.

“Our efforts to help improve the efficiency of local recycling programs are paying off,” Mouw said. “DENR will continue to try to help communities expand their recycling services while also helping make those services more cost effective.”

The state is also seeing continued expansion of recycling in the private sector, including the establishment of new material processing facilities and expanded operations of manufacturers such as Unifi, a textile company that uses recycled plastic bottles to make polyester for clothing and other products. Also, the state is making strides in the recycling of materials such as asphalt shingles, which can be used by paving companies as a cheaper feedstock for highway construction. Likewise, food waste represents a large waste stream that can be used to make compost and renewable energy.

Still, local government recycling programs remain a critical part of the state’s strategy to reduce waste sent to landfills and recover discarded commodities, according to Rob Taylor, local government recycling assistance team leader for DENR. The rankings published below are produced from annual reports submitted by every county and municipality, and each county’s ranking includes data from the municipalities within its borders. The first ranking lists the counties in order of their total tonnage of recycled materials; the second lists the counties in order of their recovery of common household recyclables.

For information on recycling and solid waste disposal, see the FY2011-12 North Carolina Solid Waste and Materials Management Annual Report at http://bit.ly/11nKFYU.

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Total Public Recycling, Per Capita RecoveryCommon Household Recyclables, Per Capita Recovery
RankCountyLbs/personRankCountyLbs/person
1PITT COUNTY763.21PITT COUNTY340.7
2CATAWBA COUNTY701.12DARE COUNTY262.2
3PASQUOTANK COUNTY390.53WATAUGA COUNTY243.3
4DARE COUNTY341.64CATAWBA COUNTY229.2
5CUMBERLAND COUNTY313.85BRUNSWICK COUNTY192.0
6ORANGE COUNTY306.46ORANGE COUNTY190.5
7MACON COUNTY284.77BUNCOMBE COUNTY183.4
8WATAUGA COUNTY260.58GUILFORD COUNTY175.1
9BRUNSWICK COUNTY206.99CURRITUCK COUNTY173.2
10MECKLENBURG COUNTY202.610ONSLOW COUNTY173.1
11IREDELL COUNTY197.811IREDELL COUNTY172.6
12CURRITUCK COUNTY197.712CRAVEN COUNTY156.6
13BUNCOMBE COUNTY188.713ALLEGHANY COUNTY155.1
14SWAIN COUNTY188.614CABARRUS COUNTY149.4
15FORSYTH COUNTY188.215HAYWOOD COUNTY137.2
16ONSLOW COUNTY180.316MECKLENBURG COUNTY136.3
17GUILFORD COUNTY180.017MACON COUNTY132.4
18ALEXANDER COUNTY172.018ALEXANDER COUNTY125.9
19NEW HANOVER COUNTY171.119NEW HANOVER COUNTY124.9
20ALLEGHANY COUNTY169.820TRANSYLVANIA COUNTY117.6
21HAYWOOD COUNTY169.721WAKE COUNTY117.6
22CRAVEN COUNTY167.522SWAIN COUNTY116.6
23CABARRUS COUNTY152.223DURHAM COUNTY115.6
24MOORE COUNTY135.324MOORE COUNTY112.3
25JACKSON COUNTY133.825HYDE COUNTY103.6
26WAKE COUNTY133.126JACKSON COUNTY99.1
27HYDE COUNTY129.927CHOWAN COUNTY94.8
28MADISON COUNTY129.028DAVIE COUNTY94.4
29TRANSYLVANIA COUNTY126.229MADISON COUNTY93.1
30DURHAM COUNTY126.030FORSYTH COUNTY91.3
31CHOWAN COUNTY120.031SCOTLAND COUNTY89.3
32SCOTLAND COUNTY114.332PAMLICO COUNTY89.3
33GRANVILLE COUNTY112.133PENDER COUNTY82.7
34ASHE COUNTY109.434CUMBERLAND COUNTY81.7
35PENDER COUNTY107.735POLK COUNTY79.8
36CAMDEN COUNTY106.636CARTERET COUNTY75.7
37YANCEY COUNTY99.237GASTON COUNTY75.0
38PAMLICO COUNTY99.238CHATHAM COUNTY74.6
39DAVIE COUNTY98.639PASQUOTANK COUNTY73.4
40CHATHAM COUNTY96.340ASHE COUNTY72.8
41CARTERET COUNTY95.541NASH COUNTY71.3
42POLK COUNTY94.442CAMDEN COUNTY70.6
43MCDOWELL COUNTY92.643PERSON COUNTY69.1
44LINCOLN COUNTY91.944PERQUIMANS COUNTY63.9
45BURKE COUNTY89.945WAYNE COUNTY63.3
46PERQUIMANS COUNTY89.546ALAMANCE COUNTY60.6
47MITCHELL COUNTY88.647UNION COUNTY60.5
48NASH COUNTY86.548GRANVILLE COUNTY59.4
49PERSON COUNTY83.849MITCHELL COUNTY58.9
50GASTON COUNTY82.350LEE COUNTY58.4
51WAYNE COUNTY79.751YANCEY COUNTY57.5
52CLAY COUNTY79.352SURRY COUNTY57.5
53LEE COUNTY78.653WILSON COUNTY56.5
54CLEVELAND COUNTY78.054MONTGOMERY COUNTY56.4
55WILSON COUNTY73.855MCDOWELL COUNTY56.3
56ALAMANCE COUNTY72.256HENDERSON COUNTY55.8
57UNION COUNTY67.657LINCOLN COUNTY54.6
58AVERY COUNTY66.658RANDOLPH COUNTY51.9
59SURRY COUNTY65.659YADKIN COUNTY48.9
60HENDERSON COUNTY64.760DUPLIN COUNTY47.9
61WASHINGTON COUNTY62.461LENOIR COUNTY47.6
62DAVIDSON COUNTY61.762DAVIDSON COUNTY47.6
63MONTGOMERY COUNTY60.963BEAUFORT COUNTY47.4
64DUPLIN COUNTY60.964GATES COUNTY46.5
65GATES COUNTY59.965ROWAN COUNTY46.1
66RUTHERFORD COUNTY59.666WARREN COUNTY46.1
67BLADEN COUNTY59.667MARTIN COUNTY45.7
68RANDOLPH COUNTY58.668CLEVELAND COUNTY43.5
69MARTIN COUNTY58.169BURKE COUNTY41.1
70ROWAN COUNTY57.470RUTHERFORD COUNTY40.3
71JOHNSTON COUNTY57.071JOHNSTON COUNTY38.9
72LENOIR COUNTY55.772WASHINGTON COUNTY38.4
73FRANKLIN COUNTY54.873VANCE COUNTY35.9
74BEAUFORT COUNTY54.274WILKES COUNTY35.9
75YADKIN COUNTY53.375HERTFORD COUNTY35.8
76WARREN COUNTY52.376FRANKLIN COUNTY35.4
77ANSON COUNTY49.277CLAY COUNTY34.6
78HARNETT COUNTY46.178STANLY COUNTY33.0
79STANLY COUNTY44.179SAMPSON COUNTY33.0
80HERTFORD COUNTY43.980BLADEN COUNTY32.0
81WILKES COUNTY43.081HARNETT COUNTY30.4
82VANCE COUNTY41.382AVERY COUNTY29.5
83HOKE COUNTY40.583TYRRELL COUNTY28.9
84EDGECOMBE COUNTY40.184STOKES COUNTY27.7
85RICHMOND COUNTY39.285GREENE COUNTY26.6
86CALDWELL COUNTY38.586CALDWELL COUNTY25.8
87SAMPSON COUNTY37.887ROCKINGHAM COUNTY25.7
88ROCKINGHAM COUNTY35.388HOKE COUNTY25.5
89STOKES COUNTY32.789CHEROKEE COUNTY22.8
90TYRRELL COUNTY31.590RICHMOND COUNTY22.5
91GREENE COUNTY28.891EDGECOMBE COUNTY22.0
92CHEROKEE COUNTY27.992NORTHAMPTON COUNTY13.3
93COLUMBUS COUNTY18.593CASWELL COUNTY13.0
94NORTHAMPTON COUNTY15.294BERTIE COUNTY11.1
95CASWELL COUNTY13.595JONES COUNTY8.4
96BERTIE COUNTY12.696GRAHAM COUNTY5.9
97GRAHAM COUNTY11.297ANSON COUNTY5.7
98ROBESON COUNTY9.898ROBESON COUNTY3.7
99JONES COUNTY9.099HALIFAX COUNTY2.9
100HALIFAX COUNTY5.5100COLUMBUS COUNTY2.8

-Press release from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, shared April 25

Angie Newsome

Angie Newsome is the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at anewsome@carolinapublicpress.org.

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