Some people in Charleston County are more knowledgeable about recycling than others. Some are more convinced than others that it is important to the future of the planet.
All of the above, however, can agree that the county's single-stream recycling program makes recycling easy. And apparently the program is paying off.
Recycling is increasing throughout the county while municipalities' trash collections are decreasing. And the program only began in 2011.
County Council took a risk when it opted for single-stream recycling. In addition to the costs (large blue carts, collection vehicles and processing changes), the industry itself has detractors. They question whether the process is cost-effective. And they note that single-stream processing can result in more broken glass, which can make its way into landfills. This system also drives down the price paid for recyclable materials.
But the county's track record could prove critics wrong. In Mount Pleasant, the town has collected fewer and fewer tons of trash even with its population increasing. Town leaders say more is being recycled instead of discarded.
Figures for the city of Charleston are not so dramatic, but they nevertheless indicate the growth in county recycling is taking a load off the city's trash collection.
Further, the county's collection costs are lower because single-compartment trucks are cheaper to purchase and operate, collection can be automated and routes can be serviced more efficiently. One of the largest costs of recycling programs is for collections.
The James Island Public Service District reported that in the past year, the amount of trash collected declined by 5 percent.
Some county residents are saying that they now recycle far more than they throw away now.
The county's goal is to recycle 40 percent of waste. It's a worthy goal, and not just for environmental reasons. Financially, it will extend the life of the landfill.
The single-stream system removes one excuse for not recycling. It is no longer complicated - no searching for numbers on plastic bottles, sorting paper from glass and glass from aluminum.
Recycling is the right thing to do - and now anyone with a blue bin (most individual households in the county) can do it easily.