The Orange County Solid Waste Management Department has organized two annual recycling events for residents and employees in Orange County called Shred-A-Thons.
During these events, community members can shred confidential documents safely, free of charge and contact-free.
The first Shred-A-Thon is on Oct. 22 in Chapel Hill from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Eubanks Road Park and Ride Lot. The second Shred-A-Thon event is on Oct. 29 in Hillsborough from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hampton Pointe 24-Hour Drop-Off Site behind Home Depot.
Cheryl Young, research and data manager at the Orange County Solid Waste Management Department, said Orange County accepts up to four banker-sized boxes or clear bags per person and the event is first-come, first-serve.
Files are shredded on-site with the use of a professional shredding truck and will close once the truck reaches capacity. Those who use the services at the Shred-A-Thon events must also handle all paper and materials themselves, as no on-site assistance will be available.
Additionally, only confidential papers are permitted to shred rather than newspapers, magazines, plastic or metal binders or electronic media.
Only Orange County local government, small businesses and local residents are permitted to use the Shred-A-Thon facilities. However, those with a Durham County address but are considered Chapel Hill residents are still allowed to come.
Orange County also operates a year-round Shred Center, which is open three days a week by appointment and is open and free to Orange County residents.
According to Young, Shred-A-Thons are typically done twice in the spring and twice in the fall each year.
The events are primarily sponsored by the Orange County Solid Waste Management Department, but there are sometimes occasional outside sponsors as well, Young said.
“We average between 400 to 600 cars at each event generally throughout the year,” Young said. “Sometimes the fall ones tend to be a little lower than the spring ones, I think that’s related to people having just done their taxes and so they're cleaning out those old receipts.”
Shred-A-Thons did not occur during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, creating a lot of pent-up demand, Young said.
Chapel Hill Town Council member Adam Searing also said he recognizes the demand for Shred-A-Thon events.
“We provide garbage collection, recycling, parks and the library," Searing said. "This is important to people and it’s a nice thing we can do and so you know, people appreciate it and it’s one of the things you get from living in our community."
Environmental sustainability is also a prominent component with the Shred-A-Thons, Young said. She added that most curbside carts no longer accept shredded paper due to contamination issues with bags breaking open, allowing paper to fall on the ground.
Professional shredding trucks, however, shred paper into confetti-sized pieces because many items are shredded at once. This allows paper to actually end up being recycled and the shreds can be repurposed.
“I think if you’re reluctant to just throw papers into the recycling bins that this might be a way to encourage you to make sure these things get eventually recycled, but don’t end up in the landfill,” Searing said.
Courtney Mcnair, a junior at UNC, said she believes in the effectiveness of Shred-A-Thons and that there is potential for the events to be shared at the University level.
“It’d be good to get students involved and like to increase student awareness of recycling and recycling events,” McNair said.
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