With the rising costs of recycling, I think it’s time for The Pilot to devote serious space to defining all the terms and rules to make us better at this critical responsibility.

What works? What doesn’t? Clean vs. dirty? What disqualifies something from being recycled, like forbidden items, things that recycle needing preparation, etc.?

In other words, answer the most common questions as a guide. Most of us have never gone to “recycling school” and want to do it using best practices to make it acceptable and save the world.

Jerry Constantino, West End

Publisher’s Note: This is a letter to the editor, submitted by a reader, and reflects the opinion of the author. The Pilot welcomes letters from readers on its Opinion page, which serves as a public forum. The Pilot is not in the business of suppressing public opinion. We are a forum for community debate, and publish almost every letter we receive. For information on how to make a submission, visit this page: https://www.thepilot.com/site/forms/online_services/letter/

(7) comments

Patricia Bryan

This was an excellent article published in The Pilot written by Laura Douglass. I live in Southern Pines, and the company contracted to collect trash/recycling keeps telling me it accepts any plastic, and continues to accept glass. On the plastics, things numbered 1 & 2 are most easily recycled. They ask that cardboard be broken down, and plastic bags are not recyclable. However I see most people put cardboard boxes out that aren't broken down, and will put their plastic, metal and paper recycling into plastic bags and put them in the recycling bin. Having initiated a recycling program in Whispering Pines back in the 90s when what we could accept was minimal, when the village took it over I rode with the man to help him pick up the correct things, then we had to go separate the stuff. Though directions were totally clear when we recycled in the country club's parking lot and when the village took it over it was obvious that contamination would always be a problem. People don't read and follow instructions. https://www.thepilot.com/news/recycling-continuing-to-weigh-on-disposal-costs/article_382a906c-2d82-11ea-9a40-fbb59b15520f.html

Kent Misegades

Unless one believes in the myths of man made climate change or limited resources, recycling is simply an economic issue. There may be value in our garbage. Only a free market can determine this. If someone can make a profit through buying some or all of our garbage then reselling it, then recycling makes sense. When the government however gets involved through coercion or taxpayer subsidies, free markets are distorted, making it difficult for a business to make a profit. Until the government gets out of the business of buying and selling our garbage, the current situation will only get worse. It has no real incentive to make a profit and generally will do anything possible to keep people on the government payroll.

Jim Tomashoff

As always, Kent will tell us something he has told us a dozen times before. Yes we get it Kent, government can't do anything, the private sector always does everything better.

Conrad Meyer

This should answer your questions Jerry.

https://www.moorecountync.gov/public-works/solid-waste?highlight=WyJyZWN5Y2xpbmciXQ==

This is one of the areas that Moore County does better than average in, thanks to Chad Beane. If you have other issues that aren't covered in the material, post them here as I have extensive experience in recycling/reuse/repurposing.

Sally Larson

Conrad, there still needs some clarification on the county site. In the thumbs up and down list it says no glass bottles but in the general information section, it says there are containers for glass bottles. Also, it would be helpful to be clear about what condition the recycled materials need to be in. This needs to be boldly emphasized on the site so there is no doubt in people's minds. Can you also make that list printable?

Conrad Meyer

Sally, you bring up some important points. Thank you for asking! Here are a couple of responses. Glass is handled and recycled separately with a separate contract with the same recycler that picks up glass at bars and restaurants (required by law). Generally, most glass containers are recycled under that contract and it is desired that glass containers be rinsed out with caps/corks/lids removed.

We used to be able to print a tri-fold brochure with the recycle info on it. Maybe that is no longer available. If not, it needs an update and rollout.

Overall, the main reason why recyclables are no longer shipped to China is that China got tired of taking all the contamination along with the "good stuff". They also decided that they could institute local Chinese recycling programs to obtain recycled content and didn't have to ship junk back to China in empty shipping containers. They just got it locally. Pretty smart on their part and stupid on our part. I'll give a personal example. I stopped a well intended citizen from disposing of a greasy pizza box in the recycle stream. He did not understand that a box soaked with grease was of no use to anyone. Better to landfill it.

I have no ability to affect the county site materials as I am not affiliated with Moore County in any way. Sorry, perhaps someone with authority will read this. Or maybe I will contact Chad Beane's successor to see what can be done. Generally, they often take cues from the DEQ in Raleigh - specifically DEACS the Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service. Google DEACS and they are always on the top of the list. They are there to HELP you and I am a volunteer resource to them to help implement.

Further, I was in a meeting today where I learned about a new rollout of a program called "Recycle Right NC". Here is a link: https://deq.nc.gov/conservation/recycling/general-recycling-information/recycle-right-nc-social-media-toolkits

I have yet to go thru this info in detail, but it looks much better than the past iteration. I suspect that counties across NC will adopt this material. The "Know your Nos was a really good section - I learned a few new things from it. (sorry for the less than complete answer).

Recycling styrofoam is a real bear. It can be done but the machines to do it are expensive. As a result, most municipalities do not take it because it takes up so much space in the recycling bins for the small amount of polystyrene recovered.

The issue is getting the word out properly. Websites are fine for people that want to do the right thing and will search for the right answer. They don't help at all for those that will try, but not try too hard. These people tend to refer to signage at the convenience centers. And that signage needs to be updated and easier to understand.

Hope that is helpful. Again, thanks for asking.

Sally Larson

Thanks, Conrad, I appreciate the info.

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