Brunswick County residents show interest in recycling the proper way.
North Carolina launched its Recycle Right NC campaign on September 9, 2019, to inform people of the proper way to recycle. Brunswick County commissioners recognized the program at its October 7 board meeting, and the campaign continued until November 15.
Micki Bozeman, solid waste & recycling coordinator with Brunswick County, explains that the county sent press releases, posted daily social media notices and reached out to residents to promote the program.
“I don’t have a way to tell how successful the campaign was, but from the number of responses, questions, emails and phone calls I received, it was very successful,” Bozeman says.
U.S. Census figures from 2018 indicate there are 92,264 households in Brunswick County. Bozeman confirms that the county has 14 recycling sites, and records show that in the 2019 fiscal year, 34,300 households used curbside recycling. However, no figures are available for how many people use the drop-off sites.
In fiscal year 2018-19, the county recycled 4,571.89 tons of single stream recyclables. This is a system that co-mingles or collects paper, plastics, metals and other containers in a single unit instead of separating them. In Brunswick County the recyclables are taken to Sonoco Recycling in New Hanover County, where they are sorted and distributed to various recycle markets.
“Different materials require different processes, but they are basically broken down in a way that manufacturers can use them versus using our natural resources,” Bozeman says.
Photos on the Know Your No’s page on Facebook show a series of items from sales receipts to mirrors to hangers that are not to be recycled.
Christi Iffergan, manager of the Southwest Brunswick branch library in Carolina Shores, says the Brunswick County library system is a strict believer in recycling.
“Brunswick County provides us with recycling bins and our recycling is picked up twice each week,” Iffergan says. “We have a recycling container in every room in our building, and we have an impressive amount of recycling each week.”
Books removed from the collection and book donations the library doesn’t need are placed in the Friends of the Library book-sale room where patrons can buy hardback books for $1 and paperback books for 50¢. Damaged books are recycled. DVDs, CDs and audiobooks are sold for $1 as well. Bins in the front lobby hold magazines where patrons can donate them or take what’s available at no charge.
Barbara Sfraga of Sunset Beach goes one step further and says she’s passionate about pre-cycling. “I try my best when I shop to choose items with the least packaging possible and reuse what I can,” she says. She composts food scraps, eggshells and coffee grinds, and when appropriate takes her own utensil kit, napkin and cups to restaurants and coffee shops rather than use disposal items.
“I realize that we have a large population of recyclers in Brunswick County that want to recycle right,” Bozeman says. “Using the different outlets to educate helps me personally since I’m the outreach person for the entire county.”
Recycling has hit a few snags. The Public Interest Research Group published “The State of Recycling National Survey” in November 2019. It states that although East Asian governments began restricting imported recyclables, “The United States failed to curb the rise of plastic, failed to build domestic demand for recycled material, and failed to ensure that product designers considered the end life of their products.”
Further it says, “In the absence of an effective recycling system, most U.S. waste is landfilled or incinerated instead of recycled, necessitating that new materials be extracted and manufactured.”
It says of North Carolina that figures from 2016-17 show the state’s “recycling and composting rate held at just 14.9 percent.”
It is evident that Americans need suggestions on how to reduce, reuse and recycle.