The Orange County Solid Waste Management Department will include rural households in the county’s 95-gallon recycling cart program next year. Residents must respond by Oct. 20 to a postcard sent out by the department to receive a cart.
The number of carts ordered depends on how many residents respond, said Eric Gerringer, recycling programs manager for the department.
Rural residents will have a choice of whether they want the new carts or want to continue using their current 18-gallon bins, unlike residents of urban Orange County, who must use the new carts. Approximately 7,000 residents have responded, with 6,000 of them giving a firm yes, Gerringer said.
The carts are scheduled to be delivered in January and February. They will also contain computer chips used for tracking, which are already present in the urban carts.
Since the start of the program, total curbside recycling in Orange County during the months of July, August and September increased from 1,098 tons in 2013 to 1,418 tons in 2014 — a 320-ton difference. But the plan to expand into rural areas had been in place independent of the urban recycling results.
“There are still some issues unresolved, but at this point, we believe most people are happy with the carts,” Gerringer said.
Chaaya Yeager, a resident of Chapel Hill who has been using one of the roll carts, said she finds the carts more convenient than the bins because they can roll and be closed. There have been no problems with the cart, she said.
Commissioner Renee Price said recycling is a priority for Orange County.
“It is in part to save the environment since we have to use plastics and paper,” she said. “It saves trees and non-renewable resources.”
Another reason for the push for recycling is that it saves land space and reduces expenses, she said.
“By keeping products out of the landfill, we save on dump expenses, and there are less fumes and risks involving the water supply,” she said.
Currently, the main method of recycling available in rural Orange County is driving to a solid waste convenience center.
The biggest challenge with the expansion is that the pickup will cover an overall larger area, making it take longer to deliver carts.
“Rural buffer areas — or suburban areas — like the program and find it advantageous,” Price said.
But expanding the program to more rural areas and farmland will increase costs because the land is farther away from the centers, Price said.
She said commissioners are working to find a solution for how to pay for the program and assign responsibility for the costs.
“We need to reach out to rural areas to see how they want to be involved in the recycling program,” she said.