Monday, November 21, 2011

State Study Shows Strong Momentum in Recycling

State Study Shows Strong Momentum in Recycling

RALEIGH –Recycling not only means less garbage, it means more jobs and a host of other benefits to the economy, according to a study that the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources released this week for America Recycles Day.

More than 15,000 North Carolinians are now employed in the recycling industry, part of Gov. Bev Perdue’s top priority of creating jobs. The recycling of materials such as construction waste and plastic bottles has risen sharply, and commercial composters are processing hundreds of thousands of tons. Carpet and shingles now can be recycled in locations across the state as manufacturers seek an increasing array of recycled goods for their raw materials.

More recyclable commodities are moving away from the waste stream and into the stream of commerce, according to the DENR study, released as Gov. Perdue declared America Recycles Day in North Carolina. 

Increased recycling is suppressing the amount of waste going to landfills, helping to reverse the growth in disposed tonnage over the last two decades and helping to sustain the drop in disposal that occurred with the 2008 recession.

A combination of effective policies, active recycling business growth, expansion of items that are recyclable, and momentum in local government recycling programs is helping both to reduce dependence on landfills and to provide much-needed commodities to North Carolina material processors and manufacturers.

“The opportunities continue to present themselves to make recycling both a core environmental and economic policy of the state,” said DENR Secretary Dee Freeman. “It is a proven green job and green business creator and it delivers a wide range of environmental benefits. We can expect more growth ahead in the recovery of key commodities.”
The study's major findings include:
  •  Local government recycling programs have built a solid track record of capturing recyclable commodities from the waste stream and have recently begun a new period of expansion. The number of households receiving curbside recycling service has reached a record high of 1.62 million.
  • Recent policy measures designed to divert recyclable commodities from landfills are showing strong signs of success. The state’s  plastic bottle recycling rate has increased by almost 50 percent since the disposal ban was passed in 2005.
  • Recycling is steadily contributing to job creation and business growth in North Carolina, while providing valuable materials to in-state processors and manufacturers. More than 15,000 North Carolinians are employed by the recycling industry across the state.
  • Even as the construction economy struggles in North Carolina, private construction and demolition facilities are increasing their recycling efforts. An all-time high of 112,315 tons of construction waste at private facilities was recycled in 2010.
  • Composting is an active area of recycling expansion and can be expected to contribute increasingly to the state’s waste reduction efforts.  Commercial composters processed more than 220,000 tons of organic materials in 2010.
  • Additional materials are becoming recyclable as collectors, processors and end-users boost their appetite for a wider range of recovered products and commodities. Materials such as shingles, carpet and non-bottle plastic containers are now recyclable in many parts of the state.
“North Carolinians should be proud of their efforts to increase recycling,” said Scott Mouw, recycling program supervisor in DENR's Division of Environmental Assistance and Outreach. “We are turning liabilities into assets as we divert more resources from landfills through community recycling programs, recycling businesses, and commodity end-users.”

Despite the momentum achieved in the past few years, some challenges lie ahead to increased recycling including expansion of recycling services to more work and away-from-home settings, improving the market value for materials such as construction wastes, and expanding the capture of organic materials for composting and energy generation.

A copy of the study can be found online under the “News” tab at Governor Perdue’s America Recycles Day Proclamation can be found at For more information, contact Scott Mouw at (919) 707-8114 or

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