Charleston County's new solid waste and recycling programs aren't cheap, but they cost much less than burning most of its trash in an incinerator in North Charleston, said the County Council's chairman.
Charleston County spent about $49 per ton to burn trash in the incinerator, which closed in 2009, council Chairman Teddie Pryor said before a solid waste program update at the council's Tuesday meeting. But the county now spends only $34 per ton to dispose of its garbage, he said.
Council members received an update on the progress of a comprehensive solid waste plan, and then discussed some aspects of it before voting unanimously to move forward with the program's next steps.
Under the solid waste plan, the county, in the next 12 to 18 months, will expand "single-stream" recycling to all of its residents. That system, which is now being offered as a pilot program to a limited number of homes, allows residents to mix all of their recyclables in one large bin. The plan also calls for an expansion of the yard and food waste composting programs and opening an additional cell at the Bees Ferry Landfill.
The county in 2009 launched an ambitious solid waste program with the goal of eventually recycling 40 percent of its trash. At the time, it was recycling about 10 percent of its garbage.
Council members Tuesday agreed that the new solid waste program is a tremendous success. The program includes taking some of its trash to the Bees Ferry Landfill and some to the private Oakridge Landfill in Dorchester County; two transfer stations so trash trucks from the county's cities and towns don't have to drive to rural Dorchester County; "single-stream" recycling; and expanded compost programs for yard waste and food.
Since the overall solid waste plan was launched in 2009, it has cost the county about $11.4 million -- $1.4 million for solid waste consultant Kessler Consulting; $4.5 million for two garbage transfer stations; and $5.5 million to dispose of garbage at the Oakridge Landfill.