Scotland’s recycling efforts ranked top among region

By Mary Katherine Murphy

March 10, 2014

LAURINBURG — Though firmly in the middle of the pack in a recent state Department of Environment and Natural Resources ranking of counties by recycling poundage per capita, Scotland County’s recycling program outperforms others in the region.

According to the rankings, released last week by the department, Scotland County ranked 47 out of the state’s 100 counties in amount of recycling per person in 2012-2013 with 92.1 pounds. At the top, residents of Catawba County averaged 638.7 pounds of recycling per person.

DENR collects data on public recycling programs each year, tracking services that divert materials from disposal and return them to the state’s recycling economy.

“The business of recycling is an increasingly dynamic contributor to the North Carolina economy and public recycling programs serve as a critical link in the supply chain delivering materials to industry,” said Scott Mouw, state Recycling Program director in the Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service.

Of Scotland’s neighboring counties, Robeson ranked 84th, Hoke ranked 85th, and Richmond ranked 88th.

In the DENR ranking of counties in terms of the amount of household recycling per capita, Scotland came in 34th with 87.7 pounds per person. Recycling an average of 279.6 pounds of household waste in 2012-2013, Dare County was ranked first. Robeson, Hoke, and Richmond counties ranked 78th, 85th, and 95th respectively.

Scotland County’s relative success in recycling a significant quantity of household materials is a direct result of the county’s decades-old recycling program. The five recycling centers scattered throughout the county are free for public use, recycling everything from glass, metal, and paper to old tires and electronics.

“If you throw away products that are recyclable, you’re going to pay for it,” said J.R. Horne, Scotland County’s solid waste enforcement officer. “The way our centers are set up, we have one of the best avenues of disposing of recyclables at no cost to our residents.”

Horne said that public education as well as the recycling centers’ ease of access and use have contributed to their effectiveness. Scotland County’s recycling centers allow comingling of several types of plastics, various colors of glass, and paper excluding newsprint. All centers are manned during business hours to clarify what is and is not recyclable.

“The biggest thing is getting the education out to the residents in the community,” said Horne, who said that he makes a point of speaking to elementary school classes and Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops.

“Here in Scotland County we really have a lot of citizens who are recycling, so we’re ahead of the game from other counties who are just getting into recycling a few items.”

Horne estimated that the centers accept for recycling 95 percent of items commonly found in people’s homes. From the centers, metals are sold to local salvage yards and all other items sold to Wagram Paper Stock, where they will be baled and sent for sorting depending on market conditions. All monies are returned to the county general fund to support the recycling centers.

“The more products that we can recycle, the less we put in our landfill and the less we have to send out of our county as waste,” Horne said.

In prior DENR rankings, Scotland County ranked 32nd in total recycling per capita in 2011-2012, with 114.3 pounds per person. In 2010-2011, the county was 51st with 79.2 pounds per person.

Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-276-2311, ext. 17. Follow her on Twitter @emkaylbg.