more news

Department News

Request email notification when page changes Email me page updates


Eubanks Road Waste and Recycling Center will close for remodeling February 28.  Nearby interim Waste Center with limited services will open March 2.

The Eubanks Rd. Waste and Recycling Center will officially close at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 28 in order to begin a significant remodeling and modernization project.  It is anticipated that these renovations will take approximately ten (10) months to complete.  A temporary Waste Management Center, located on Millhouse Rd. less than a mile north of the Eubanks Road Center, will be open and ready to receive materials at 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 2.  The temporary Center will be staffed, will operate the same hours as the current Eubanks Road Center, but will have only limited services for the disposal of household garbage, bulky items, scrap metal, yard waste and electronics.  

Residents that normally use the Eubanks Road Waste and Recycling Center are asked to alternatively use the fully-operational sites at Ferguson Road. or Walnut Grove Church Road, bring their mixed recycling and corrugated cardboard to one of the 24-hour recycling drop-off sites, the closest at Cedar Falls Park on Weaver Dairy Road.  Tires, large appliances and corrugated cardboard can be taken to the Orange County Landfill at no charge during hours of operation, Monday- Friday 7:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. and Saturdays 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon.  Batteries and automotive wastes can go to the Household Hazardous Waste Collection facility on Eubanks Road, Monday- Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., and Saturdays 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon.

Download our informational brochure with details on disposal alternatives for the duration of the construction project, and other information

We sincerely thank our users, nearby residents and businesses for their patience during the construction period.

Similar to the Walnut Grove Church Road Waste and Recycling Center remodel completed several years ago, the new and improved Eubanks Road Waste and Recycling Center will have all paved surfaces to control dust, mud, and run-off.  There will be lower level containers to ease disposal of bulky items, appliances, clean wood, tires, metal, and yard waste.  New compactors for household garbage, cardboard, and mixed recycling will increase space and hauling efficiency, while separate routing for County collection trucks will improve flow for residents and safety for all.  There will also be additional materials added to the suite of recycling services, including food waste drop-off, used cooking oil, textiles, plastic bags, and an improved “salvage shed”.

For a limited time only, March 3- April 15, Yard Waste Mulch will be discounted for only $15.00 / three cubic yard scoop.  That is 40% off our regular price and is definitely the best deal around.  Cash or checks only, please!  The three cubic yard scoop will fill the bed of a standard pickup truck, and weighs about 1 ton. Bring a truck and/or trailer, a tarp and bungees to cover your load and Solid Waste Management staff will load for you.  Orange County Landfill, 1514 Eubanks Rd. , Monday- Friday 7:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. and Saturdays 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Branches, logs, leaves and Christmas trees from local Public Works, landscape companies and residents have been ground, screened, and cured for at least 90 days by expert Solid Waste Management staff.   Applying mulch to your landscapes now will help reduce weed sprouts, soil erosion, and evaporation while releasing carbon and other beneficial nutrients.  Over time, repeated applications of yard waste mulch will improve overall nutrient content, friability and moisture levels in the soil below!

COMPOSTING CLASSES Learn the basics of indoor composting using worms and outdoor composting using a variety of containers and recipes.  Starve the landfill and feed the earth by turning YOUR yard waste and kitchen scraps into beautiful crumbly compost. Compost helps plants grow more vigorously by adding root-accessible nutrients and bacterial enhancement to your soil, bringing soil pH closer to neutral, and protecting your landscapes from over-drying and runoff.  Classes are free, no registration is necessary, and children are welcome if accompanied by a compost curious adult.

  • Saturday, March 18, 10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m. at the Composting Demonstration Site located at the Solid Waste Administrative Office, 1207 Eubanks Rd, Chapel Hill.
  • Tuesday, March 21, 3:00-4:30 p.m. at the Carolina Campus Community Garden on Wilson St. in Chapel Hill.
  • Saturday, March 25, 10:00-11:30 the Composting Demonstration Site located at the Community Center Learning Garden (behind the rose garden) on Estes Drive, Chapel Hill

If you miss one of these opportunities, schedule your own composting class at one of our demonstration sites for groups of six or more.   Contact Muriel at (919) 968-2788 or email   for more information.


The Orange County Solid Waste Management Department is offering two free Shred-A-Thons in cooperation with University Place and local law enforcement.

Orange County residents and small businesses (including those in the Town of Chapel Hill within Durham County), and local government employees that work for the County or the Town of Carrboro, Chapel Hill or Hillsborough may securely destroy their personal documents at no cost.  

Both events are from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and will take place at the following locations:

  • Thursday, April 27 -- University Place, at Willow Drive, Chapel Hill, park and walk up service.  Some carts will be available but participants with more than they can carry may want to bring a cart or other wheeled conveyance.  
  • Saturday, April 29 -- Hampton Pointe Recycling Site, behind Home Depot, Hillsborough, with drive through service.

There is a limit of five “banker-box” sized boxes or five large bags of paper per household or business, and a limit of one trip per household, business or organization.

Please remove any non-paper materials prior to bringing loads to the Shred-a-thon such as plastic binders, plastic folders, metal tabs, laminated paper, computer disks or other electronic media. The shredded paper will be recycled so we want to keep it clean!

Shredding takes place on-site in full view of people delivering paper. 

Rural Curbside Recycling Expansion AND Rural Route Changes Start July 1, 2016
Starting July 1, curbside recycling in Orange County is expanding to add 7000 more single family homes, making curbside recycling available county-wide.  The current rural recycling routes have changed dramatically to incorporate these new households.   You can find the NEW street list and the NEW collection schedule HERE. The new expanded collection area and the new collection schedule will all start on July 1.

On June 24, all rural recycling customers will be mailed a calendar card to their house with their new schedule on it with the every-other week recycling days for the next 12 months. 

Recycling container delivery details:
Since February, the Solid Waste Management Department has been finding out from residents in the expansion area to who wants orange bins or a blue cart delivered for curbside collection.  Residents who sent in their request before the March 31 deadline will have their recycling containers delivered to their address starting the week of June 27 and continuing until all have been delivered.  Some orange bins are being delivered even earlier than that as operations staff are available to do it, but recycling collections on the new schedule will not start until July 1.

Those who missed the deadline, but sent in their request at a later date will get their containers delivered next, starting in August 2016.  Residents in the current service are who requested carts during the expansion process will also get their carts in August.  We appreciate the patience of both our new and long-standing curbside recyclers as we transition into this new phase of our development!

Recycling Collection details:
Carts and bins will be delivered with set out information as well as details on the materials accepted for recycling and how to properly prepare it.   Please look this information over carefully! Some of the main points are:

  • If you have a cart, please use only your cart.  Our collection staff will not collect bins and carts from a single household.
  • Whichever container you choose, please have them out by 7AM on your collection day.  Especially during the summer months, our crew wants to get out early to beat the heat.  If your bins or cart were out by 7AM on your collection day and were not collected, please CALL our office by the next business day so we can get to that issue right away: (919) 968-2788
  • Carts should be set out along the street edge with the cart opening facing the street, and nothing blocking the cart, or on top that could prevent access.
  • Look over the recyclable material list online carefully!  If an item is not on the list, don’t try to recycle it at the curb!  When in doubt, throw it out, or better yet give us a shout
  • Leave items LOOSE!  Do not use a plastic bag to contain your recyclables, and don’t try to recycle plastic bags at the curb. We do not want them, bring to grocery stores for recycling instead.     

Due to changing collection schedules a small number of residents will have a one-time situation whereby their collection schedule exceeds the two week collection interval.  We apologize for this inconvenience.  If material overflow is experienced please bring your excess items to a Waste & Recycling Center or a 24-hour Recycling drop-off.


The Orange County Solid Waste Advisory Group (SWAG) sponsored a public information session on managing food waste and other compostable materials. 

The SWAG meeting Wednesday, November 4, featured speaker international food waste collection expert Janine Ralph with HDR, an international engineering firm with expertise in all aspects of solid waste management.

 The purpose of this session was to present information about the diversion and processing of food and other organic compostable wastes.  Ms. Ralph presented performance data about a variety of programs in the U.S. and Canada. Her talk also covered municipal roles in managing residential and commercial organic materials, collection options and container types that could fit the needs of the County and Towns and processing options and observations as to why food waste collection programs succeed and fail.

The intention of the Solid Waste Advisory Group, made up of two elected officials from each jurisdiction and representatives from UNC-CH and UNC Health Care, in presenting this session is to begin consideration of options for further reduction of waste landfilled from everywhere within Orange County. 


ORANGE COUNTY, NC (January 27, 2015)—Orange County Solid Waste is delivering recycling roll carts to residents currently residing in the unincorporated or rural portion of the county that receives bi-weekly curbside recycling collection.

Approximately 8,000 blue recycling roll carts with black lids have been delivered to residents who have previously requested one.  If you do not have a blue cart, and would like to have one to use for your County provided curbside recycling service, or for more information, please call Orange County Solid Waste at 919-968-2788 or email  

Click here for Rural recycling routes. Look for your street on the alphabetical list then click on the route number to find out your schedule. If your street is not listed, it is not currently on one of our recycling routes.

Residents may start using their new roll cart as soon as it is delivered, on their next scheduled recycling day, at their usual recycling location.  Carts are delivered with a full color brochure tied to the handle containing detailed instructions about proper material preparation, cart placement as well as information regarding other solid waste programs and services.  

Residents who receive a cart can either keep their 18-gallon orange recycling bins for household use, or recycle the bins by dropping them off at one of the five Solid Waste Convenience Centers located throughout Orange County.  Some bins will be repurposed for reuse in area schools or available to residents upon request.

Please note we are offering 95-gallon roll carts as an OPTION for curbside recycling in the rural curbside service area only.  Rural residents who want to use the orange bins for bi-weekly curbside recycling can and should continue to use their bins at the curb as normal.  Carts will only be delivered to those who have requested a cart.  

Cart Rules and Regulations

If a residence has a cart at the curb, only the cart will be collected, not a mix of bins and carts at a household, or any materials left on the ground.   Carts must also be at the curb or edge of the road, prior to 7:00 a.m. on the scheduled collection day; allow three feet between the cart and other objects, such as trees or mailboxes; and must have the cart opening facing the street.   The cart lid will have three large arrows on it helping to guide how to properly place it at the curb.

Using a cart for curbside recycling will help to increase collection efficiency, increase collection capacity, reduce litter, and be safer for our drivers. 

Cart Drop Photo Caption: Cart contractor staff deliver roll carts to Orange County rural residents that requested a cart.


Orange County Exceeds Waste Reduction Goal, reaching 64%, the highest EVER.

ORANGE COUNTY, NC (December 11, 2014)—The State of North Carolina reported the amount of waste landfilled per person that originated in Orange County was measured at 0.49 tons per person in fiscal year 2013-14.

This is a 64% reduction when compared with the base year of 1991-92 tonnage of 1.36 tons per person. For the first time, this exceeds the 61% reduction goal, set in 1997 as part of the state-required Solid Waste Plan. This measurement includes all types of solid waste from all sources within Orange County, regardless of landfill destination.

“When the 61% goal was established, many considered it overly ambitious compared to the state’s 40% statutory goal, plus no other county set a goal higher than that,” said Gayle Wilson, director of Orange County Solid Waste. “The County and its three towns set the goal based on the amount of recyclables contained in the waste stream at that time and also increased the goal further to compensate for prior reductions that had taken place not due to County actions. Over the years the governments have re-affirmed the goal and continued to work on it together.”

Waste reduction rates in neighboring counties include: Alamance = 23%, Chatham = 41%, Durham = 13%, and Wake = 29%. 

“This achievement is a credit to all the residents and businesses of Orange County who recycle so much so diligently and constantly.  For many years, our elected boards have invested in and supported waste reduction and recycling because it’s in line with the values of this County and something the public wants,” said Commissioner Chair Earl McKee. “Our staff and contractors do a great job picking up and processing the thousands of tons of materials set out each year. Each ton we recycle is a ton that is not landfilled and that ton is one we don’t pay to dispose of.”

To view the full report of all NC counties’ current and past waste reduction rates, please visit


Twenty five years of recycling in Orange County

Twenty five years ago this fall Orange County and its municipalities launched curbside recycling in all three towns – Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough.  While there had been a drop-off site program and other publicly funded efforts for more than two years preceding the launch of curbside, 1989 could be said to mark our transition to ‘serious’ recycling joining the ranks of other early adopters of broadly based around the nation.

Thus we use this twenty-fifth anniversary celebration as a time to mark TWENTY-FIVE program accomplishments and benchmarks that we can celebrate as part of our success in reducing waste landfilled and making the transition towards a materials management program instead of just solid waste management. 

1) 1989 Distribution of over 12,000 blue bins to all single family homes throughout Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough to launch the weekly curbside recycling program

2)  1990 First comprehensive waste composition study at the Orange County Landfill conducted to see ‘what’s in our garbage

3)  1992 Pilot rural curbside recycling and downtown Chapel Hill ‘bar glass’ recycling programs began

4)  1993 Creation of County-wide system of staffed Solid Waste Convenience Centers for management of residential waste and recycling, closing 19 unstaffed ‘green box’ sites

5)  1994:  initiation of apartment complex recycling program and beginning of County-wide comprehensive solid waste planning process

6)  1995 Chapel Hill Solid Waste Management Department created to manage recycling program and landfill facilities

7)  1995 Pilot food waste recovery program contracted to two small hog farmers

8)  1996 Unlined landfill closed and modern lined landfill constructed and opened

9)  1996 Ban on landfilling commercial corrugated cardboard enacted in Orange County

10)  1996 Four-county (Chatham, Durham, Orange and Wake) cooperative household hazardous waste program began and Orange County builds permanent hazardous waste drop-off site

11)  1997 Planning process results in County wide adoption of 61% waste reduction goal

12)  1998 Food waste collection expands using large scale composting contractor for collection

13)  2000 Orange County takes over operation of landfill and recycling from Town of Chapel Hill and creates inter-local agreement to manage program

14)  2002 Orange County achieves 45% waste reduction, the first County in North Carolina to surpass State’s goal of 40% waste reduction

15)  2002 Regulated Recyclable Materials Ordinance initiated to require solid waste plan of all new development and banning cardboard, scrap metal and clean wood from disposal

16)  2002 First electronics recycling drop-off events in Orange County

17)  2003 Conversion of Household Hazardous Waste collection from once a month to four days per week operation

18)  2004 Conversion of electronics recycling program to permanent drop-off site, eventually expanding to six locations county-wide

19)  2004 Three R recycling fee initiated to ensure comprehensive, predictable, and  equitable financing of recycling programs

20)  2006 Addition of mixed paper to curbside recycling and apartments, conversion to 2-stream recycling instead of source separated program

21)  2006 Corrugated cardboard banned from residential waste

22)  2012 Conversion to single stream recycling, leads to overall 16% increase in curbside recycling collection

23)  2012 County reaches 59% waste reduction, highest in the State

24)  2013 Orange County MSW Landfill closes, and landfill gas recovery program begins in conjunction with UNC

25)  2014 Conversion of urban curbside recycling to roll carts leads to 29% increase in recycling collection, and planning for (voluntary) conversion of rural program to roll carts begins.

Compost Bins for Sale

Cost: $50 cash or check only

Orange County Solid Waste Administration

1207 Eubanks Rd. Chapel Hill, 27516

Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m.-5:00p.m.

You can make your own rich crumbly compost at home with your yard waste, brown leaves, and kitchen fruit and vegetable scraps. To learn more about the "Earth Machine" outdoor composting unit that we sell, visit


Compost Demonstration Sites

There are two outdoor composting demonstration sites located in Orange County where you can learn more about outdoor composting and observein it "in action":

  • Orange County Solid Waste Management Administrative Office, 1207 Eubanks Rd. Chapel Hill.
  • Chapel Hill Community Center Learning Garden (behind the rose garden) on S. Estes Drive.

Orange County Solid Waste provides composting education classes using these sites at least four times per year, twice in the spring and fall, but they are for public educational use as well. OCSWM can provide outdoor composting instruction at these locations, or help set up and teach outdoor composting to function for interested organizations, schools or businesses. These classes are free to the Orange County public, comtact if you are interested.  

Orange County Solid Waste delivered recycling carts to Town residents in June, 2014

Orange County is pleased to announce that residents of Carrboro, Chapel Hill (including the portion of the Town of Chapel HIll that falls within Durham County) and Hillsborough with curbside recycling receivednew blue 95 gallon wheeled carts to replace their old square 18-gallon bins that have been the Towns’ recycling receptacle for decades!  Residents should now be using their blue carts on their regularly scheduled recycling day. Curbside recycling in the towns will remain a weekly service.

Postcards with cart use information and recycling details were mailed to each address receiving a new cart.  Find the postcard online here, or if yoiu prefer we can mail you one to keep for reference. The carts are equipped with an RFID tag (or “radio-frequency identification”) that will tie the cart to each address and will help measure participation rates. 

Only recycling placed in the new blue carts will be collected, and the old square bins should be retired.  Please place carts at the curb, parrallel with the strewe, and with the lid opening facing the street, by 7:00 a.m. on their collection day. The cart should be clear of any obstructions, and two to three feet distant from any other object such as mailboxes, trees, vehicles, or other carts.  This is so the truck’s mechanical collection arms can have space to lift and tip the carts with ease. 

Only materials placed loosely inside the recycling cart, with the cart lid closed, will get emptied into the recycling truck—items left on the ground, in plastic bags, or another containers, or that get stuck inside the cart will not be recycled.  Carts should be rolled back to the house after collection in accordance with Town ordinances.

More questions?  Check out the FAQ Cart document!


The Orange County Landfill closed on June 30, 2013. Other services will remain active.

As of June 30, the County Municipal Solid Waste Landfill will close.  This facility will no longer accept household waste or any other putrescible (wet, due to potential food content) garbage from any individual or business.   Household and business waste must be taken to a permitted transfer station or landfill that can accept those materials. Tipping fees and recycling/preparation policies may vary by facility.

The following properly separated materials will also continue to be accepted at the Orange County Solid Waste Management Facility on Eubanks Road:  

  • Yard waste
  • Tires
  • Scrap metal
  • Clean (unpainted, untreated) wood waste
  • Large appliances
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Oyster shells
  • Electronics (up to ten units per trip)
  • Mattresses and box springs (no other upholstered furniture) 
  • Hazardous waste collection facility (220 pounds/month limit for businesses)

The Construction and Demolition Waste (C&D) Landfill will continue to accept waste from construction, remodeling and demolition projects subject to the County disposal bans on corrugated cardboard, scrap metal and clean wood waste. Those materials must be separated to be accepted.

Mulch and compost sales will also remain active.

Residential services for garbage and recycling collection will continue uninterrupted at all five of Solid Waste Convenience Centers located throughout Orange County.  No commercial or other non-residential use is permitted at these locations.


Student Move-out Waste Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Resources!

The end of April marks the end of the collegiate Spring semester.  It’s time for the population in Chapel Hill to drop and for the number of available parking spots to rise.  It is also time for a huge slug of move-out goodies to hit the landfill.  Do your part to make move out less waste-full. Use the following guidelines to reduce waste, support local charities, and recycle as much as possible!

If you are interested in an end-of-year-move-out collection point at your apartment complex for clean, dry clothing, canned foods and usable household goods, contact our office and we will work with you to set up such a site and help provide publicity to your residents as they prepare to move out. Our office would provide a set of labeled, clean roll carts during the month of May. Your obligation would be to publicize the program, locate carts in a secure, dry area that is easily accessible for residents. Periodic policing will help ensure that the contents are usable and sanitary. Let us know if you would like a set of roll carts for clothing, canned goods and small household items.

Reusable furniture and other household items in good condition can be offered for reuse at “Salvage Sheds” located at Solid Waste Convenience Centers except for BVradshaw Quarry Rd.  Used mattresses can NOT be left at Solid Waste Convenience Centers

Solid Waste Convenience Centers have recycling collection for bottles, cans, jars, mixed paper, newspaper, magazines, non-bottle plastics such as yogurt tubs and stadium cupsand corrugated cardboard. Recycle all batteries, motor oil, antifreeze, televisions, computers, cell phones and other electronic devices there too! 

Electronics can also be recycled at the Orange County Landfill on Eubanks Rd. in Chapel Hill. Hours there are Monday – Friday 7am to 4pm and Saturday 7:30am to noon.

Clothing and household items in good condition can be donated to local charities and pick-up can be arranged for large loads.

  • PTA Thrift Shop Village Plaza, S. Elliott Rd, Chapel Hill (919) 942-6101
  • Club Nova Thrift Shop, 103-C West Main Street, Carrboro (919) 967-6985. 

Furniture and appliances in good condition can be picked up by the Habitat for Humanity Hand-Me-Up store. Appliances must work and be less than 10 years old.  Call (919) 403-8668 to schedule a collection if you can’t drop your items off at 5501 Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard, Durham, NC 27707

Donate unopened cans and boxes of non-perishable food items and unused personal care items to the Inter-Faith Council Food Pantry at 110 West Main Street in Carrboro, between 9-5 weekdays. If you need to make special arrangements for weekend drop-off, call them at 929-6380 ext. * 16.  Unserved perishable food can be brought directly to the Community House Facility at 100 W. Rosemary St.                                                     

Styrofoam packing peanuts and bubble wrap should be brought to local packaging companies like “Pack It Ship It” at MidTown Market on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, or UPS packaging stores throughout the County.  Packing materials should not be left at the recycling dropoff sites.

Metal cans, plastic bottles, glass bottles and jars and all clean, dry paper including, newspapers, phonebooks, envelopes, junk mail, class notes, can be recycled at all five of the 24-hour recycling drop-off sites

  • Cedar Falls Park: Weaver Dairy Road
  • University Mall: Mall parking lot behind the gas station on Estes Drive
  • Carrboro Plaza: Behind ABC Store in southeast corner of the Plaza
  • Meadowmont: Behind Harris Teeter (this is the least used site)
  • Hampton Pointe Shopping Plaza: Hwy 86 in Hillsborough behind Home Depot

If the site is full, please take the recyclables to another site (usually Meadowmont site or Hampton Pointe site at Home Depot in Hillsborough are underutilized).  Never ever leave plastic bags at a drop-off site. Take clean, dry empty plastic or paper bags to grocery stores to be recycled.

Hazardous Waste such as “CFL’s” (compact fluorescent lights), paint, hair spray, bug spray, drain cleaner and any flammable, toxic or corrosive liquids should be taken to the Hazardous Household Waste (HHW) Collection at the Orange County Landfill on Eubanks Road. HHW is open Monday through Friday 10am to 6pm and Saturday 7:30 am to noon.

Please contact our office if you have any move-out questions!

(919) 968-2788

Special Event Planning for Waste Reduction

“Special event” season is here and many planners want to do right by their event goers, and the environment.  The Orange County Landfill closed on June 30, 2013, and our garbage is now traveling over 100 miles to be landfilled. It is simply a priority among many of our residents, staff, and government officials to reduce as much waste as possible!

The marketplace has recognized the trend so store shelves are full of products that claim to be “green” -- but sometimes the labeling is misleading, and if the event doesn’t go the full distance with recycling AND composting collection respectively, “green” purchasing is not going to make a bit of difference.  Here are some myth busters and basic guidelines to help out.

Buying products labeled “compostable” does not make you green.  If you buy “compostables” make sure they are labeled “certified compostable” and will be sent to a commercial composting facility.  Corn-based #7 PLA cups usually have a green band around them and claim to be compostable.  They are… but only in a commercial composting facility, not in your backyard bin, and certainly not in the landfill.  They cannot be recycled either! Unless they are actively separated from the rest of the trash and brought to a collection point for a commercial composter (with permission or by contract), they will go into the landfill.  There they break down slowly and produce methane. If compostable serving ware is just going to be landfilled it’s no better for the environment and more costly for consumers than serving with petroleum-based plastics.   

“Biodegradable” and “compostable” and “recyclable” do not mean the same thing. Two groups of materials have been developed in terms of degradable plastics. The first group includes plant based resins like #7PLA in corn based cups discussed above. The second includes petroleum-based conventional plastics that have chemicals added (known as oxo-degradables) which, when exposed to heat and oxygen, break apart the carbon bonds resulting in micro-fragments of plastic and metals. The fragments will remain in the environment but will not be seen as a visual contaminant.   

There are serious concerns amongst plastics, composting and waste management experts that these products do not meet their environmental claims. European Bioplastics considers terms such as “biodegradable” and “oxo-biodegradable” without reference to existing standards as misleading, and as such not reproducible and verifiable. Testing by the Association of Post-Consumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) shows that these plastics are NOT RECYCLABLE.  APR states “they [oxo plastics] are a contaminant in the recycling stream. Claims of recyclability are unfounded, untested, and possibly misleading as outlined in the Federal Trade Commission’sGreen Guide.”  The principal concern is that a recycled resin containing degradable additives renders any product made with those resins unsellable because the product has reduced quality and shortened service life.  

With all the plastics recycling in North Carolina, this is a big concern for businesses here. The NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources has just released the report: “Study on the Effects of Degradable Plastic on Recycled Feedstocks” which can be found at: Pursuant to that, a new bill is being prepared to go the legislature this session to require OXO plastics to be labeled as not recyclable and any plastic labeled as degradable or compostable to comply with American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard D6400-04, "Standard Specification for Compostable Plastics."

What is an organizer to do? Know your waste stream! Identify what is going to be served and therefore what will be thrown out at your event.  Replace disposables with durables or recyclables wherever possible.  Many local caterers are becoming accustomed to this request. If you have recyclables, make sure you have containers for collection, and a system for proper recycling after the event. For example, instead of fountain drinks and plastic cups, serve beverages in bottles and cans and have recycling containers next to every trash can.  At the end of the event bring them to one of Orange County’s 24 hour recycling drop-off sites.  Serving hotdogs?  Good choice—finger food requires no plates or utensils, but the buns are going to come in recyclable plastic bags.  Stuff empty bun bags into another plastic bag, and recycle at a participating grocery store.  Serve condiments in bulk containers rather than disposable packets.  Want to go the distance and have compost collection?  Purchase appropriately and ensure that the compost collection containers are watched so that absolutely no plastic or metal goes in! 

Orange County Solid Waste Management can help.  We loan recycling containers for special events and consult with planners to reduce the waste stream, identifying systems for diverting waste through reduction, recycling or composting.  Larger public events in Orange County have worked with the Solid Waste Department to reduce their waste as much as 95%!  Each has their own method - Hillsborough Hogg Day works closely with food vendors to make sure they serve only on compostable ware.  Organizers of Farm-to-Fork and Terra Vita provide compostables directly to the vendors, but also reduce waste by providing each event goer with only one utensil (it’s not “Farm to Forks!” the organizer will explain).  All three of these events rely on Solid Waste staff and trash-savvy volunteers at sorting stations to keep it all separated and moving smoothly. 

CLICK HERE for the Guide to Using Durable, Disposable or Compostable Serving Ware for Special Events

Single Stream Recycling effective in Orange County as of July 1, 2012

Residents and businesses in Orange County will no longer have to divide their recycling into two separate containers-- all paper, magazines, newspaper, phonebooks, cartons and junk mail can be commingled with plastic bottles and jugs, metal cans, aluminum trays and foil, glass bottles and jars at the curb, in carts, and at drop-off sites.

This system of recycling, commonly referred to as “Single Stream”, will make recycling easier and more convenient for residents and businesses, while also saving trips and reducing lifting strain for recycling collection staff.   Recycling trucks won’t fill as fast because everything goes into one compartment, thus reducing transportation costs.  The technical sorting capability at recycling processing facilities (known as Material Recovery Facilities or MRFs) has improved greatly using a combination of automated equipment and manual labor, so a wide range of commingled materials can be efficiently separated and processed to achieve high-value marketable commodities. 

Curbside residents can still recycle corrugated cardboard at the curb.  The same rules apply as in two-stream -- empty and flattened boxes that are 3’x3’ or less, and 10 pieces or less, unless you can fit them all in your bin.

Businesses, apartment dwellers, and other multifamily site residents with recycling collected in blue County-owned carts still need to recycle their cardboard separately either in a designated dumpster or at a recycling drop-off location. 

Orange County Solid Waste has made a significant investment to publicize this exciting new change.   Hopefully residents and businesses received the latest issue of "Waste Matters", our 4-page newsletter that was mailed at the end of May of this year.  Informational recycling decals were replaced at all apartment complex and commercial cart sites. Anyone with questions, comments or concerns or who would like copies of any of these new outreach documents is encouraged to contact the Solid Waste Management Administrative office at (919) 968-2788 or e-mail

County Removed Plastics Recycling Dumpsters from Recycling Drop Off Sites, now only availble at Solid Wasdte Convenience Centers.

Due to excessive contamination levels, sometimes exceeding fifty percent, Orange County Solid Waste Management will permanently remove the large purple roll-off dumpsters for recycling rigid plastics from four unstaffed recycling sites on November 1.  Banners have been placed at each site stating that the rigid plastic containers will be removed.  All other recycling collection containers will remain at the unstaffed sites.

purple rolloff removed

The purple dumpsters for recycling resin types #2, #4 and #5 cups, tubs, buckets, pipe, lawn furniture and other non-bottle plastics will remain at the five staffed convenience center sites along with all other current recycling and trash services.

Orange County has been collecting the non-bottle rigid plastics for recycling from both staffed convenience center sites and unstaffed recycling sites since February 2010 and averages about 13 tons per month incoming material, of which about nine tons of which are suitable for sale. This is the highest rate of contamination from any public recycling program. The contaminants must be manually sorted by County staff and landfilled before the good material can be sent to market.  

Only about 10% of the material in purple dumpsters from staffed sites is contaminants. The majority of contaminants come from the four unstaffed sites at Carrboro Plaza, Cedar Falls Park, Meadowmont and University Mall.  The dumpster at the Hampton Pointe recycling site behind Home Depot in Hillsborough was removed a year ago for excessive contamination, but contamination at the other four sites did not improve even with extensive public education.

Since the County established this program ongoing efforts have been made to educate the public about the proper materials including placement of high quality signage, extensive paid advertising, articles in local papers, shows on local radio and two major efforts staffing the usually unstaffed drop-off sites with temporary personnel to educate site users.  

Rigid plastics #2 (HDPE), #4 (LDPE) and #5 (PP) for which there is a reliable, regional market that Orange County sells to include items such as five gallon buckets, kitty litter buckets,  plastic storage totes, plastic lawn furniture, black pipe, and kiddie pools. These items are not recycled when put in curbside recycling bins with cans and bottles, only when kept separate and brought to the staffed Solid Waste Convenience Centers.  See the County web page for a full list of acceptable plastics in the purple bins: to request a pictorial brochure.


North Carolina Electronics Ban in effect July 1, 2011; Electronics recycling details for Orange County.

Computer equipment and televisions will be banned from disposal in North Carolina landfills as of July 1, 2011, as required by NC Session Law 2010-67 passed last year by the General Assembly. As of July 1, televisions, computers and computer equipment such as laptops, desktops, monitors, printers, scanners, and peripherals such as mice and keyboards cannot go in the trash or be disposed in any NC landfill.

Orange County residents can recycle their electronics at all 5 of the Solid Waste Convenience Centers located throughout the county, during hours of operation.  Visit for details.

Orange County residents, businesses, and other non-residential entities can recycle their electronics at the Orange County Landfill, 1514 Eubanks Rd. in Chapel Hill, Monday- Friday from 7:30a.m.-4:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 12 noon.  Please call ahead to make an appointment for large loads so we can process those right away.

Collected electronic items include any audio or visual data carrying devices such as computers, monitors, mice, keyboards, televisions, IPods, scanners, printers, speakers, cables, copiers, cell phones, telephones, stereos,  fax machines, CD and DVD players, cassette players, VCRs and electronic media such as CD’s, DVD’s and their cases (no electronic tape such as cassette or VCR tape please). Look for the black trailers labeled “Electronic Recycling”.

Orange County has been providing residents with electronics recycling since 2002.  Orange County will recycle close to 1,000,000 pounds of electronics this fiscal year.  That is approximately 11 tons per week, or 8 pounds per person, per year.  Orange County contracts with a North Carolina based electronics recycling firm called Synergy Recycling, LLC Synergy is certified with numerous environmental and employee health and safety standards, and their downstream markets are also certified to be environmentally sound and non-polluting.

Other components of the law are designed to create statewide recycling opportunities for discarded electronics and to place significant responsibilities on electronics manufacturers to help fund and create those opportunities.  All computer manufacturers are required to offer at least a free mail-back program for their own equipment, and some will offer additional kinds of recycling options. A number of retailers also offer recycling of electronics, as do some nonprofit and charitable agencies. A comprehensive list of recycling options for residents and businesses in the state of North Carolina can be found at: