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Turning waste into revenue: County recycling program gaining solid ground

Posted on Monday, December 30, 2013 at 9:00 am

Bobby Cashion (left) and Steve Mears (right) collect recyclables on their route in Moore County. (MCN Photo by Robert Holman)

Bobby Cashion (left) and Steve Mears (right) collect recyclables on their route in Moore County. (MCN Photo by Robert Holman)

Moore County Mayor Sloan Stewart has a message for you: “There is cash in your trash!”

That cash, which is generated when citizens recycle their garbage, means money saved for every tax payer in the county.

Moore County’s Recycle Program began in theory in 2006 when Mayor Peggy Gattis hired Stewart, then a councilman, as the Solid Waste Manager. Bobby Cashion became Convenience Center Coordinator in 2007 and recycling in Moore County began. Stewart retained the management responsibilities as mayor.

It costs approximately $300 for each load of trash taken to the landfill. Prior to recycling, the county took seven loads a week. That has now been reduced to five loads a week, a weekly savings of $600. But there’s even better news. Much of the recycled material can be sold to companies who have a use for it, thereby creating an income for Moore County.

As with our household budgets, spending less and bringing in more is the way to fatten the county coffers and have money needed for schools and roads.

Recycled cardboard is the big money maker. This category includes shipping and gift boxes, cereal, cake mix, cracker and pizza boxes, paper towel, toilet tissue and gift wrap rolls. Heavy paper such as brown mailing envelopes can also be included. Lynchburg businesses are a major source of cardboard.

In 2006, the county was selling cardboard to one company for about $3,000 to $5,000 per year. Stewart and Cashion learned, however, that there is a competitive market for cardboard. The Convenience Center is now bailing 1,000 pounds a day and shopping the market for the best price every 40 days. Cardboard alone generates $30,000 a year.

The Convenience Center accepts all forms of paper for recycling, including newspapers, phonebooks, magazines, computer paper, shredded paper, junk mail and gift wrapping paper.

Can you recycle cans? Yes you can, but you need to separate the soft drink cans from the tin vegetable cans. Both should be rinsed and placed in the appropriate bins. Each year at least one Moore County High School class paints their graduation year on a bin and collects soft drink cans as a fund raiser.

Recyclable plastic bottles and containers have a number stamped on them. The Convenience Center accepts those marked No. 1 and No. 2. Most of us accumulate a large number of plastic bags, especially during this season of increased shopping. You will be pleased to learn that they are a No. 2 plastic and thus can be recycled.

There are other, more unusual items that can be recycled such as car batteries, motor oil, and cooking oil. Aluminum foil and disposable aluminum pans can be recycled separately from aluminum cans. Scrap wood and scrap metal, even large items such as appliances and swing sets, can be recycled.

According to Metro Mayor Sloan Stewart, each week the recycling center here in Lynchburg bales approximately 1,000 pounds of cardboard, much of it like these common household food boxes. The center sells the cardboard, which brings on average $115 per ton. (MCN Photo by Robert Holman)

According to Metro Mayor Sloan Stewart, each week the recycling center here in Lynchburg bales approximately 1,000 pounds of cardboard, much of it like these common household food boxes. The center sells the cardboard, which brings on average $115 per ton. (MCN Photo by Robert Holman)

As a true sign of the times, the Convenience Center has a special container designated for electronics. These are bought by Scott Recycling out of Knoxville.

Stewart is pleased to report the addition of a glass grinder to the Recycling Program. With the help of County Agent Larry Morehead’s research, it has been determined that ground glass can be used as a substitute for gravel as a base for concrete. This will be a savings for county projects and it keeps glass out of the landfill. Home owners planning to pour concrete may check with Stewart or Cashion about the availability of ground glass for their projects.

The Recycling Program has been expanded to home pick-up on a limited basis. Homeowners in town can put their separated recyclables on the curb on their normal trash pick-up day. They will be picked up by a Convenience Center employee separately from the usual trash pick-up. There are plans to gradually expand this program into neighborhoods. Success will depend on the interest and participation of the residents.

Not long ago, the county’s solid waste account had a deficit. Stewart reports that we now have a comfortable surplus. This has allowed for the upgrading of the center with a large storage building and a larger drive-in area, as well as the expansion of services.

Stewart credits recycling’s success to the dedication of employees Bobby Cashion, Steve Mears, Carey Jolly and Chad Burton and the cooperation of the approximately 50 percent of Moore Countians who recycle.

When asked what recycling mistake he would like to see corrected, Stewart’s answer was short: “Not doing it.”

June Pugh is an award-winning writer whose More About Moore column appears every other week in The Moore County News. You may reach her at <jjpugh@bellsouth.net>.

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