On Tuesday, April 17, after about a year of renovations, the Eubanks Road Waste and Recycling center celebrated the new facility and its reopening.
After closing in February 2017 for months of renovations, the facility has been paved, low-level containers have been added, and new trash compactors have been installed to improve the capacity and overall efficiency. Upon entering the facility located in Chapel Hill at 1514 Eubanks Rd, signs designate different areas for proper disposal of specific items such as scrap metals, wood, yard waste, large appliances, plastic bags/film, household waste, food waste/cooking oil, antifreeze and motor oil, household hazardous waste, and practically any other type of waste. In the center of the facility sit three trash compactor containers designated “bagged household trash.” Large green containers line the edge of the facility platform edges, providing easy disposal for bulky items instead of lifting overhead.
“This facility is an example of the county’s commitment to protecting our natural resources,” County Commissioner Penny Rich said. “The Board of Commissioners makes it a priority to be responsible stewards of the environment. We’re fortunate to live in a community that shares those values.”
Last year, residents in Orange County achieved a 62 percent waste reduction, a figure among the highest in the state. The average resident accumulates a little less than 4 pounds of garbage a day, a significant decrease since 1991 in which residents were producing almost 8 pounds of trash per day. This site will help that number decrease even more.
“Thanks to you all for making this a better place to live, a cleaner place to live, and for making us aware of what we do on a daily basis with garbage,” Rich said.
County Commissioner Barry Jacobs spoke next, noting that his involvement with the waste and recycling center dates back to 2001, when he served as the construction and demolition (C&D) waste recycling task force co-chair alongside former County Commissioner Margaret Brown.
That task force helped establish the C&D Landfill and implemented the Recyclable Materials Recovery Ordinance, which at the time was the first in the state.
“We have been, if not pioneers, certainly leaders in trying to address solid waste in Orange County that is responsible, creative, productive, and inclusive,” Jacobs said.
About 10 years ago, Jacobs and Former Commissioner Steve Yuhasz served as the Commissioner representatives alongside a consultant, questioning the next step for “all these, what were then called convenience centers.”
Ultimately, they adopted a model from parks and recreation, which was to have regional parks and district parks. This model converted for solid waste purposes resulted in two regional waste and recycling centers now located on Walnut Grove Church and Eubanks Roads, and then smaller centers dispersed across the county, located on Ferguson, Bradshaw Quarry, High Rock Roads, and more.
“This facility is the final expression of that plan, at least for a while,” Jacobs said. “It certainly took a while to get here.”
He continued on to thank the county and its staff, but ultimately the Solid Waste Advisory Group, a group that was and is a number of elected officials including co-chairs Jacobs and Rich, and the active involvement of the three town governments in Orange County, Hillsborough, Carrboro, and Chapel Hill. As the group continued to grow, UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Hospital were incorporated, as “we still have aggressive aspirations to try and do as much as we can to recycle and reuse as much as we can,” Jacobs said.
“It’s hard to say a waste facility is a proud achievement, but it is a proud achievement that we’ve been able to do this and hopefully the residents of Orange County will appreciate it as much I hope the staff will,” he continued. “Those are the two most important groups, the staff and the residents. What we elected officials do comes and goes but solid waste endures.”
County commissioners, solid waste staff, and community members gathered at the ribbon cutting to celebrate this success. On hand was Solid Waste Planner Blair Pollock, Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce CEO Kim Tesoro, County Commissioners Penny Rich, Barry Jacobs, Mark Marcopoulos, Renee Price, County Manager Bonnie Hammersley, Solid Waste Director Robert Williams, Solid Waste Education and Outreach Coordinator Muriel Williman, and various Solid Waste Staff and community members. Solid Waste Advisory Board member Bonnie Norwood was remembered before the ribbon cutting, as she played a significant role in advancing Orange County’s solid waste management and passed in 2010.