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March 6, 2014


Catawba County has reclaimed the top ranking among all North Carolina counties in the amount of materials recycled, per person, according to information released by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) on March 6, 2014.

Catawba County ranked first in North Carolina for Fiscal Year 2012-2013, with 638.73 pounds recycled, per person. Catawba County also ranked first in Fiscal Year 2010-2011 and ranked second behind Pitt County in Fiscal Year 2011-2012.

“We are very pleased to again have this distinction that reflects the dedicated efforts of Catawba County citizens, businesses (particularly Republic Services, the County’s solid waste franchisee), school systems and our cities and towns, who have made recycling a very high priority for more than two decades,” said Amanda Kain, Catawba County’s Waste Reduction Coordinator and Educator. “Catawba was the first county in the state to offer curbside recycling countywide way back in 1990, and we have made recycling a habit since then. The credit for this achievement belongs to all of these groups that have worked in close partnership with Catawba County on recycling.”

Kain said a broad set of recycling-based initiatives in Catawba County led to the top ranking. In addition to the county-wide collection of recyclable material, the County operates an EcoComplex, designed to bring together businesses, located in a close area, that re-use each other’s waste streams. Republic Services operates a Materials Recovery Facility or MRF that separates recycled items from the general waste stream. The County also began a Commercial Recycling and Waste Reduction Partnership in Fiscal Year 2008-2009.

A new contributing factor in the top ranking was the start of year-round collection of electronics and asphalt roofing shingles at the Blackburn Landfill, whenever the Landfill is open.

The EcoComplex is an innovative and interactive network of companies and operations that matches waste streams with the need for materials in the manufacturing of new products and energy sources. The on-site use of discarded materials in turn helps Catawba County achieve higher rates of recycling.

The Commercial Recycling and Waste Reduction Partnership Program is a free and voluntary partnership that encourages local businesses to take proactive steps to improve their environmental record while improving their bottom-line. The program recognizes businesses in Catawba County that operate in an environmentally friendly manner by practicing the 4R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle, rebuy). More information about this program may be seen at

Republic Services’ Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) extracts approximately 2,900 tons of saleable commodities per month from the waste stream, about one-third from Catawba County and the rest from neighboring counties. Recyclable commodities include all plastic bottles and containers (#1 – #7), wide-mouth plastic containers (including lids), rigid plastics, mixed paper, newspapers with inserts, junk mail, computer paper, office paper, color paper and envelopes, gift wrapping paper (without foil backing), magazines, telephone books, paperback books, cardboard, gift boxes and shoe boxes, pizza, cereal and food boxes (no food debris), milk and juice cartons and boxes (no liquid - all boxes should be flattened and placed into cart), aluminum cans, steel cans (including lids), aluminum foil (no food debris), glass bottles and jars (all colors), empty aerosol cans (no paint cans)

“Catawba, Pitt, Dare, Orange and Watauga Counties have demonstrated longstanding leadership, and continue to serve as models for the rest of the state by operating an array of programs that target a wide range of materials,” said Rob Taylor, NCDENR’s Local Government Recycling Assistance team leader, in the NCDENR release, noting the five counties that ranked high both in terms of recycling, per person, and recycling of common household items, per person. Catawba County ranked fourth in the state in recycling of common household items per person.

Catawba and Pitt Counties have traded the top ranking in the amount of material recycled, per person, over the last three fiscal years. Catawba County officials believe expanded recycling that went into effect in late 2013 will keep Catawba among the state’s leaders in recycling for years to come.

“We ranked number one in the last fiscal year, before a new solid waste franchise with Republic Services went into effect that added even more items to the list of materials that Catawba County citizens can recycle,” said Barry Edwards, Catawba County’s Director of Utilities and Engineering, who oversees landfill operation and solid waste management for the county. “The new franchise also introduced ‘single stream’ recycling, meaning customers no longer have to separate items for recycling. We believe this will increase the amount of materials recycled, per person, in the years to come.”

For more information on Catawba County’s recycling programs, you may contact the County’s Waste Reduction and Education office at 828-465-8217 or