Wilmington’s recycling program is putting on a new blue face to go green while New Hanover County’s sorting station is also receiving a makeover.
Blue is the color of the new 95-gallon recycling cart with wheels. City residents will be able to store five times the amount of recyclables in the blue carts than in the red bins, which hold 18 gallons.
“Actually it’s going to be saving the city money,” said Malissa Talbert, the city’s public information officer.
The bins and the new recycling pickup schedule will reduce manpower costs by $220,000. Recycling will be picked up every two weeks starting in January 2013, but trash and yard waste will still be picked up every week, Talbert said.
The goal of Big Blue is to encourage citizens to recycle by making it easier for citizens to recycle and reduce costs. The recycling program is already offered to residents at no additional charge and Big Blue will also come to residents without any increases on their trash bills.
If customers opt to recycle and use a small trash cart that holds 35 gallons instead of the 95-gallon trash cart, they can save $4.65 per month.
The city is automatically delivering the blue carts, beginning in late November and early December, to the nearly 15,000 residents who reside within city limits and are already enrolled in the optional curbside recycling program. People who are not already enrolled in the program and want to get involved can sign up online at wilmingtonnc.gov/recycling.
The new method is expected to defer 15 to 20 percent of recyclables from the landfill to Recycle America on River Road.
“We certainly want to do that if not more,” Talbert said.
The city annually picks up 25,000 tons of household trash and 5,700 tons of household recycling. The cost of disposal per ton is $59 for trash at the landfill and $20 to recycle.
The county’s system is also undergoing changes with a new sorting station that will separate plastics into No. 1s, No. 2s and Nos. 3-7.
Lynn Bestul, county solid waste planner, said the new sorting system will reduce the deficit for the cost of recycling because separating the plastics into three categories will allow the bottles to be sold at a higher dollar value.
The county recycling program has been in existence since the early ‘90s and up until about four years ago, the county was only able to recycle No. 1s and No. 2s, he said.
“Then we were able to increase that market to primarily allow citizens to recycle all of their plastics,” Bestul said.
With the new system, three workers will be placed along the 17-foot conveyor belt sorting the items into the three plastic designations.
Bestul said the volume of recycling at the five locations throughout the county has doubled during the last five years.
“Last year, we did a little over 4,700 tons from the drop-off sites,” he said.
Bestul said if plastic bags, Styrofoam and other contaminants are taken out of the mix before they go into the sorting process it saves time.
Water usage drops
Another eco-friendly trend locally and nationwide can be seen in decreasing water usage.
Water consumption for the 2011-12 fiscal year is 1.5 percent lower than the 2010-11 fiscal year.
Since the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority began operations in 2009, there has been a 7.4 percent water consumption decrease, dropping from 5.83 billion gallons consumed annually to 5.4 billion for fiscal year 2011-12.
The national average water consumption is 100 gallons per day per person.
Residential households serviced by the CFPUA average 10,000 gallons bi-monthly.
Jacqueline Valade, public information and community outreach official for the CFPUA, said the user base determines consumption so the decrease could be due to multiple reasons.