Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011 represented the first day ever that the amount of waste received by the County for recycling exceeded the amount of garbage disposed at the landfill. When you’re talking in terms of millions of pounds of stuff, it’s a major milestone in public sanitation.
“While this performance isn’t yet the norm in Mecklenburg County, it does give us a very good indication of what could be our future,” said Bruce Gledhill, director of Solid Waste for Mecklenburg County.
Almost 1,500 tons of trash (about 3 million pounds) was taken to the landfill on Nov. 22, while almost 1,900 tons (about 3.8 million pounds) of recyclable material was received at the Metrolina Recycling Center, Compost Central and the four full-service County recycling centers
. For the day, overall recycling came out on top as almost 56 percent of all material collected.
Gledhill said a bumper crop of fallen leaves – which are recycled into mulch and compost along with other yard waste -- and record collection levels probably tipped the scale. But that doesn’t make the recycling landmark any less significant.
“The more recyclable material that we can collect, the less trash has to be sent to the landfill,” Gledhill said. “Recycling decreases energy use and pollution, helps conserve consumption of raw materials, and saves money. It’s more expensive to manage a pound of trash than a pound of recyclable material.”
Since single stream recycling was introduced in Mecklenburg County over a year ago and the County began accepting a wider range of recyclable materials, recycling overall has increased 20 percent. While there is a lot of room for improvement, Gledhill credits residents for stepping up their recycling efforts.
“The citizens of Mecklenburg County have made a great effort to help us reduce, reuse, and recycle,” he added.