As we celebrate Earth Day 2013, Charleston County can be proud of the great strides we have made in greening our community and promoting sustainability for our children and future generations. As your chairman of County Council, I am proud of the many successes that Charleston County Environmental Management has had in its efforts to develop the premier integrated solid waste management program in the Southeast.
Charleston County's residential single-stream recycling program continues to incrementally expand throughout the county, with 50,000 single-family households currently being offered All-In-One recycling service. The county has observed a considerable increase in the amount of recyclable material collected in the All-In-One program, with an average of 21 pounds per home per pick-up, compared with the 10 pounds per home per pick-up with the standard two-bin program.
Additionally, the county has observed participation rates as high as 80 percent in All-In-One areas, compared with 35-40 percent for the rest of the county.
The county's award-winning composting program continues to expand. Since November 2011, the county has banned the disposal of yard waste in plastic bags. The ban has eliminated the presence of plastic contaminants and has enhanced the overall quality of the compost produced at the Bees Ferry Compost Facility. Producing a cleaner compost product allows farmers, landscapers and residents the ability to purchase higher quality compost.
Additionally, we are the first county in the state to be permitted by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control to process food waste from commercial and institutional businesses. Partnering with private collection haulers, the county's food waste program is geared toward commercial generators of food waste.
The addition of food waste adds nutrients resulting in a high quality finished compost product. Increasing the intake of food waste tonnage supports County Council's 40 percent recycling goal and allows our Environmental Management Department to help reduce the costs of operating its compost programs.
The county's Greening Schools program, which offers recycling collection and education to all Charleston County School District schools, has expanded to include food waste recycling at 11 elementary schools.
Food waste recovery leads to a reduction in the amount of garbage generated and also supports council's goal of a 40 percent recycling rate.
I want to say thank you to our community for participating in our recycling programs. County Council and our Environmental Management Department encourage you to remember to recycle at work, home and play.
Join us at Riverfront Park in North Charleston to celebrate Earth Day 2013 on Saturday, April 20, from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. The day will be filled with great local food, music and fun environmental and science-based learning activities for children, with over 60 exhibits. For more information, go to recycle.charlestoncounty.org, or call Charleston County's Environmental Management Department at (843) 720-7111.
Teddie E. Pryor, Sr. is chairman of Charleston County Council.