BALOG COLUMN: Charleston County rolls out recycling improvements
Teddie Pryor had doubts when Charleston County first considered a single-stream recycling program.
“I didn't see how it was going to work,” the County Council chairman said.
Turns out it's working pretty darn well.
As the roll carts are phased in across the county, most recently on the peninsula and in I'On, more people are participating, and the amount of material placed at the curb for recycling is increasing, too.
County staff has been planning for the next step, scouting a location for the next recycling center. One single-stream processing line was installed at the existing Romney Street recycling center, but the dual stream lines are still needed for the slightly more than 50 percent of county homes that are still separating paper from plastic and glass containers, said Carolyn Carusos, recycling program manager for Charleston County Environmental Management.
They're looking at three potential sites for a new recycling center, and should be making a recommendation to the council this month.
With Charleston businesses starting curbside cardboard recycling Monday, they expect even more material to be processed.
But recycling staff are determined that the county will not be a victim of its own success.
The county needs a spot that's about 11.5 to 13 acres; the Romney Street center is between 3 and 4 acres. They're looking at three sites and hope to make a recommendation to County Council this month.
But, getting a spot with the right zoning is one thing, but getting the neighbors to agree is something else.
People may hear “recycling center” but they still think garbage, Pryor said.
“It's going to be a state-of-the-art building,” he said. He envisions trucks arriving in the back, unloading inside the center, and coming out empty through the front door.
It'll be up to the county to convince surrounding neighbors that's how the new processing center will work.
Where's my bin?
Pryor says people all over the county love the 95-gallon rolling carts. Isle of Palms City Councilwoman Barbara Bergwerf is among the fans. She says IOP is sending 20 fewer tons of garbage to the landfill since they got their bins. Her own household garbage has been cut in half.
But she's concerned about the increased amount of garbage during tourist season and would like to see more frequent collection.
Turns out Pryor said there's talk of adding trucks in the beach areas as the summer season gets into full swing.
If you still don't have a new cart, the next expansion should be sometime this summer, Carusos said, and that's when the county will return to its previous approach, distributing about 9,000 roll carts to customers throughout the county.
The single-stream transition should be completed in 2014.
“We're not going to let that (facility) stop us,” Carusos said.
The idea is to get more people recycling, and it's clearly working. Now the county just has to keep up with demand.
Reach Melanie Balog at 937-5565 or email@example.com.