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ASHEVILLE — Earlier this month, Asheville City Council adopted a goal of reducing municipal solid waste by 50 percent by the year 2035. That’s a big step, and one that highlights Asheville’s commitment to being a leader in sustainability. But it also takes into mind that, at the current rate, the Buncombe County landfill has a projected lifespan of the next 21 years and one way to extend that life is to put less waste there. City of Asheville residential waste accounts for 16-22 percent of waste going into the landfill.
“There are opportunities for Asheville to find other ways to handle solid waste,” says the city’s Chief Sustainability Officer Maggie Ullman. “We’ve been on a good roll reducing our landfill waste, and Council’s direction means we can look for even more beneficial strategies.”
Those opportunities could include not only ways to increase recycling, but also pay-as-you-throw garbage fees and options for household composting collection. As with current initiatives, the resulting savings on tipping fees are circulated into funding for more waste-reduction programs, Ullman said.
The city of Asheville launched its residential recycling efforts in 1997. The Zero Waste Asheville program, featuring larger single-stream containers launched in 2012 and resulted in a 25 percent increase in recycling and a 6.4 percent decrease in materials headed for the landfill. Educational and promotional campaigns, like the recently unveiled Recycle and Win! partnership with Coca-Cola, offer residents the chance at a $50 gift card to Ingles for recycling.
A waste audit, performed last fall in partnership with Buncombe County and Asheville Green Opportunities, showed that 18 percent of what residents are sending to the landfill could instead go to the recycling center, and 26 percent could be composted, which means there is the opportunity to find new ways to address that 44 percent we are still throwing away.
For an illustration of Asheville’s carbon output, including the impact of landfill waste on our carbon footprint, go to http://ow.ly/tZEt5.
The city of Asheville single-stream recycling program accepts more materials that ever before. Find out what you can recycle at www.ashevillenc.gov/green.