Local News

New recycling law to promote better habits

Posted June 2, 2009

— Starting in October, it will be against state law to throw plastic bottles in your trash.

Not recycling plastic will soon become illegal Not recycling plastic will soon become illegal

The challenge, though, is that there is no real way to enforce the statute to make people recycle. But supporters say the new law is a step in the right direction.

"It'll help us reduce waste going to the landfills. Obviously, it'll help us recover a valuable material," said state recycling director Scott Mouw.

Mouw said about 70,000 tons of plastic ends up in the state's landfills each year. About 20 percent gets recycled.

"We hope it will make a difference," he said. "We hope people will take this law in the spirit that it's intended, which is to say to everybody in North Carolina that we need to do a better job of recovering this material."

Mouw said everything from water bottles to detergent bottles can be recycled and reused to make new containers.

It is already illegal to throw out aluminum cans. County and state officials admit recycling laws are difficult to enforce.

"They're not going to be looking in people's trash cans. They're not going to look in dumpsters," Mouw said.

Mouw said they will be watching landfills for large plastic bottle violations.

"Enforcement is not something that will be heavy-handed," he said.

"I think it's probably a good thing," said Deborah Lee, who recycles but admits she is not that mindful of it. "I know we're probably behind the times and other people are already doing it, so I don't have a problem with that."

Plastic bottles are not the only items that will be banned from trash cans starting Oct. 1. Other banned items will include motor-vehicle oil filters, wooden pallets and even oyster shells.

However, cities or towns could get a waiver from the state to keep the law from taking effect on the local level.


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  • simplysmurfy Jun 4, 2009

    It's not really a matter of enforcing the law, it more about making people realize that recycling is a serious. For years the world has asked people to do the right thing and recycle, and now recycling is service provided similar to trash pickup, but still ABSENT MINDEDLY throw these things out. I have a neighbor that recycles NOTHING and her trash is always heaving on trash day. I, on the otherhand, recycle most things, and my family only needs to put the trash out once a month.

    The problem is that when people throw things away, they think that's the end of things....out of site, out of mind. It's our responsibility to leave the world in a better place than we found it.

    I better resolution would be to place a recycling bin everywhere we have public trashcans. Often while out in public I get plastics that can be easily be recycled, but the only choice is the trash. I keep an old backpack in the car, bring these things home and recycle them.

  • DizzyDaphnee Jun 3, 2009

    Article headlines are so amusing, take this one, "New law will promote better habits" ! Who says so, not in my world. I do not develop habits because there is a massive problem and now there is a law FORCING me. Where exactly is all this "promoting" going on. Unless I read an article here, how does one have easy access to what is LEGALLY tossable and what is not. I'LL TELL YA HOW TO GET PEOPLE TO COMPLY and NC legislative morons ain't doing it. Two things people, EASY ACCESS to the receptacles in EVERY SINGLE COMMUNITY IN NC and constant dialogue and information to the community on how it is going, how much is being collected, could create good will competitions between hoods, could develop a stronger more far reaching relationship with the communities and by making the drop offs prolific and convenient, THEY WILL BE USED A LOT MORE. I recycle because it is smart, sensible, good for my environment, NO LAW will EVER make something mean all that. Laws only promote lawbreakers

  • akomas Jun 3, 2009

    What steps would we have to take in order to have a reimbursment program for recycling? As in other states where you take your recycling in to various locations like grocery stores and recieve 5 cents per bottle. I truely believe citizens would be more inclinded to recycle if there was some sort of incintive, but right now there are only punishments and penalties. Not only would it promote recycling but possibly stimulate the economy and I know i would pick up any bottle i saw lying around if I could get money for it thus helping with the litter problems our roadways have.

  • Subdivisions Jun 3, 2009

    I'm looking forward to the tax credit for my recycling pick up.

    ha ha ha.

  • kurthesse Jun 3, 2009

    "someone doesnt have enough to do with their time..What a crazy law... How about passing more laws to make our state safe, Unbeliveable!"

    How about just sending the Legislature home - period and pwrmanently. Less graft, less corruption, nobody to approve pork spending for the oh so honest legislative branch to sign off on... Hmmm..... Won't work quite to that extreme, but I sure wish it could. How do you know if a politician is up to no good? Check for a pulse.

  • Go_Daddy_Go Jun 3, 2009

    I live in Durham City. We have curbside pickup for our recycling. I'm constantly amazed at what the "recycling man" either throws back into our yard, or just lobs into the trash can. If a small box is not crushed (we're talking cereal box here), then he throws it in the trash can. If it's not a clear plastic bottle, he throws it in the yard, or the trash can. I can understand that the city isn't prepared to recycle everything, but really...?

  • kitelover110 Jun 3, 2009

    I wish that Harnett County offered recycling. We can recycle newspapers, magazines and aluminum cans at the landfill but that is about it. I don't have garbage pickup (not cost effective since after recycling what I can and composting, I have only about 1 33 gal. bag of garbage a month). Would be nice to be able to recycle plastic bottles (I use cloth bags for grocery and other shopping). Sure would save on the landfills and add to the possibility that my grandchildren will be able to see open land when they are grown.

  • Howie275 Jun 3, 2009

    Putting a deposit on cans and bottles would probably make way too much sense. It may be a pain to some, but plenty or organizations and kids that will pick up bottles and cans and return them for .05ea. Lots of venues such as local fairs, concerts would allow organizations like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts for example in to clean up all the bottles and cans. They would end up raising $1000's. This would also help keep the roads a little cleaner.

  • shirleyr1 Jun 3, 2009

    It will be only effective if it hits the pocketbook. Oregon has a deposit on anything that can be recycled, and the grocery stores have a machine that returns that deposit when you put your recyclables through the machine, seems to work for them.

  • tharris01 Jun 2, 2009

    someone doesnt have enough to do with their time..What a crazy law... How about passing more laws to make our state safe, Unbeliveable!