Recycling camp

Campers at Efland Cheeks empty and recycle milk cartons after lunch. Recycling cartons is estimated to reduce lunch waste volume as much as one-third. Pictured left to right: Ayanna Baptist, Mariah Bynum, Lily Crayton, and Haven Cook.

Orange County’s Education and Outreach Coordinator Muriel Williman has gone off to summer camp up in Efland this month, but it’s not vacation. For four consecutive Mondays she’ll have taught campers at Efland Cheeks Community Center about waste reduction, recycling and composting. Muriel reports, “The second week of camp, I conducted a lunch-time waste audit separating out what could be recycled from true trash. After the audit, one of the young campers agreed to “tip and recycle” the chocolate milk cartons, and another agreed to tell his friends that it is unlawful to throw away plastic water bottles … It was wonderful to see them take charge of the waste situation. After a break for the Fourth of July holiday, I returned with an Earth Machine composter and all the ingredients to cook up a hot compost pile outside near the garden. By the end of camp there should be a little bit of compost they can add to the soil for their fall garden.” 

Bobby Cobb, Efland Cheeks Community Center Manager enthusiastically adds, “Our kids are participating in a community garden campaign growing fresh tomatoes and beans. This is being headed by a local volunteer farmer Mr. Pat Mann and his wife Pam. Kids are also learning about healthy eating habits by engaging in nutrition classes being taught by the NC Cooperative Extension staff. We've also partnered with Camp Chestnut Ridge to have our kids participate in canoeing, archery, horse grooming and more.” 

Salvage Shed Use at Eubanks Road Survey Results 

In late May and early June at the Eubanks Road Waste and Recycling Center salvage shed, local resident Ari Smith volunteered to conduct a survey and weigh incoming inventory for five days, two hours each time. He found, to no one’s surprise, how popular that feature of the center is, but this is the first time in the Centers’ 25 years of operation that the Solid Waste Department has documented any measurement of what comes in and goes out of the sheds in an attempt to determine the amount of traffic, amount, types and weight of items brought in and number of ‘shoppers’ using the shed. Below is a summary table of three days sampling; each day’s tally is based on just two hours of measurement per day and sites are open up to 11 hours a day. 

Not everything brought into the sheds is usable or desired. Some things judged by staff to be unusable or unwanted are ultimately discarded at the end of each day or sometimes sooner to keep the level of clutter down. Anything recyclable like metal items, unpainted wood or clean and dry textiles are recycled in the containers on site. Broken, very dirty, partial things like a deck of 51 cards or truly unusable items (like expired packages of food) are landfilled. Very little that remains by the end of each day at the sheds can be considered salvageable based on long experience and the high traffic at these sites. 

If volunteers are again available, we will be able to take another series of measurements at both this site and salvage sheds at three of the four other Waste and Recycling Centers. The Bradshaw Quarry Road center is too small to accommodate a salvage shed. The Eubanks site, being closest to the major population center of the County is, by far, the liveliest of the four. 

Welcome New Solid Waste Staff 

We welcome new staff members LaVonda Brooks as our new Office Assistant and ‘voice of the Department’ and Christal Sandifer, business officer responsible for the Department’s budget and finances. Lavonda is an Orange County native of Cedar Grove where she lives with her family. Christal, an Alamance County native and UNC grad, lives in northern Orange as well with her family. 

New Food Waste Collection Contract for Orange County

Orange County Solid Waste has entered into a new, long-term food waste collection contract with Brooks Contractor who has been collecting food waste for composting from commercial locations throughout the County for the past 19 years. During the first year of the new contract, operations will remain similar to the current level – including collection from about 45 locations totaling about 1,400 tons last year. In future years, the program may expand to include more locations. If you know of an interested restaurant or other food waste generator, please contact Blair Pollock at (919) 968-2788 or recycling@orangecountync.gov. Residents can participate by dropping off their food waste of any kind at the Eubanks or Walnut Grove Waste and Recycling centers or the Carrboro Farmers Market during its Saturday hours. No plastic bags please. 

UNC Move Out Nets Reusable items for TROSA, Church of God joins recycling program

Orange County welcomes to the County recycling program Hillsborough Church of God on NC Highway 86.

Amy Preble of UNC’s Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling reports, “UNC completed another great year of student move-out thanks to our crew’s hard work and terrific partner participation. OWRR and Housing partnered with TROSA to set up donation stations around campus for the ‘Don’t Ditch It, Donate It’ program, which diverted over 90 cubic yards of materials from the landfill, including 39 cubic yards of furniture and 38 cubic yards of clothing and shoes that will be reused or resold by TROSA to support their work with those in recovery from substance abuse. TROSA also collected 4,200 lbs. of carpet for recycling.