Richmond County sends out about 200 tons of household garbage every day. Where does it all go?
All of the County’s garbage is first taken to a transfer station, where it is loaded onto trucks. From there it makes the journey to the Uwharrie Environmental Recycling Complex, about 30 miles away.
When the waste arrives at Uwharrie Environmental, it goes to the Material Recovery Facility, or “MRF.” There it’s loaded onto a conveyor and the process of separation to recover recyclable goods begins.
The facility is contracted to service Richmond, Moore, Montgomery, Union and Stanley counties, and the City of Asheboro.
Richmond County is the only one in the region that does not separate recyclable items, sending about four truckloads a day of “mixed” waste.
“We really hope to get everyone on board with single stream recycling,” said Joe Reynolds, Division Manager of Uwharrie Environmental. “Single stream recycling means most of the recyclable goods are already separated out of the household waste and a much greater percentage of what can be recycled is able to be recovered. Right now only about 12 percent of what could be recycled is able to be recovered from Richmond County’s waste.”
That leaves about 88 percent of recyclable goods that are unobtainable through this process, when trash is delivered without recyclables being separated.
“We are constantly working on ways to stay ahead of the curve in Richmond County, and taking an innovative approach towards recycling,” said Public Works Director, Bryan Land.
A project is under way at the County transfer station for white good recycling. “That will include washers, dryers, stoves, microwaves and other appliances,” said Land.
The County has set up recycling bin locations at six sites: the Airport Road Site at 125 Hatcher Rd., Cordova Site at 168 First St., Ellerbe Site at 250 Bennett Road, Rockingham Site at 849 US Highway 1 N., East Hamlet Site at 800 East Hamlet Ave. and the transfer station at 191 Walter Kelly Rd., in Rockingham.
Recyclable items include cardboard, paper, steel cans, aluminum cans and plastic bottles and jugs. All of these can be deposited into the same bin.
There are separate bins for glass and scrap metal, and the facilities also collect used oil.
“I separate my garbage now,” said County Manager, Rick Sago. “It wasn’t really a tough transition. I went from having one garbage can to having two. I just feel like it’s the right thing to do.”
“Besides,” Sago said, “in the long run, whatever we as a County can do to keep labor costs down is good for us financially too. It has a sort of trickle-down savings effect.”
Richmond County’s trash budget is about $3.5 million, annually.
“It’s really about responsibility,” Reynolds said. “We all create so much trash, we have to realize that it doesn’t just go away.”
Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 18, or by e-mail email@example.com