Education & Outreach
Orange County Solid Waste Management (OCSWM) offers FREE educational services to Orange County schools, businesses, not-for-profits, faith-based organizations, civic groups, governmental organizations, and the public. Services include:
- Recycling presentations and workshops
- Compost education and bins for sale
- Special events
- recycling container loans
- compost collection
- "Fork It Over
- Volunteer opportunities
- Landfill tours
- Waste assessments
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OCSWM provides printed outreach material about our programs and services, and can provide content regarding Orange County recycling or composting information for other local or regional publications.
Recycling 101, 201, 301...
Recycling presentations and workshops can be provided for your classroom, community group, faith-based organization or other gathering. Topics can range from the "3R's"- a hand's on discussion about waste reduction, what can be recycled, what is reuse, and why they are important; to higher level discussions regarding recycling markets, processes, policy and economics. Topics can be of specific interest as well such as plastics, food waste reduction, or special event waste diversion.
Presentations from the waste reduction and recycling experts at Orange County Solid Waste Management can be brought to your gathering place, or take place at the Orange County Solid Waste Management Administrative Office training room facility.
According to the US EPA, up to 70% of the municipal solid waste stream is made up of organic material. OCSWM can help businesses, institutions, and individuals "starve the landfill and feed the soil" by composting their organic wastes including yard waste and kitchen scraps.
Compost Demonstration Sites
There are two outdoor composting demonstration sites located in Orange County where you can learn more about outdoor composting and observe in it "in action":
Orange County Solid Waste Management Administrative Office, 1207 Eubanks Rd. Chapel Hill.
Chapel Hill Community Center (behind the rose garden) on S. Estes Drive.
Orange County Solid Waste teaches public composting classes at the demonstration sites listed above at least four times per year, twice in the spring and fall. These classes teach the basics or indoor composting using worms, and outdoor composting using a variety of recipes and structures.
OCSWM can provide outdoor composting instruction at the demonstration sites for your organization or classroom group with at least 6 adults. We can also help set up and teach outdoor composting to function on location for interested organizations, schools or businesses.
Visit the Composting Resources page for more information about home composting.
Indoor composting, also known as vermicomposting, or composting with worms, provides an relatively easy and accessible way for anybody to reduce organic waste by composting fruit and vegetable scraps using a wormbin indoors.
Vermicomposting demonstrations are available for school, civic, or faith-based groups. Participants will learn about Nature's recycling of nutrients through decomposition, investigate the anatomy and function of worms in soil, and other scientific concepts such as soil composition, basic chemical components, and soil ecosystem diversity. We can even build an indoor composting wormbin on-site for your classroom or organization!
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.
Make 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 www.earthmachine.com.
For large public events with information booths, OCSWMD can provide information table and recycling collection services-- including organizing volunteers plus providing recycling containers and recycling collection in exchange for free booth space and sponsorship status, and volunteer support. Level of involvement depends on the level of committment and engagement of event organizers.
Each year, Orange County Government hosts hundreds of meetings and events that serve food. Waste Wise events can keep help 90% or more waste out of landfills.
Please use the tools below to host your own Waste Wise Event:
- Checklist: A one page guide to streamline your Waste Wise event planning
- Caterer List: Find local businesses that can cater your event using sustainable practices
- Purchasing Guide: Certified Waste Wise serving ware
- Sorting Tool: A one page guide to help you sort out what’s recyclable, reusable, and compostable
- Signs: Clarify waste disposal at your event with these printable signs
- Talking Points: Explaining your Waste Wise event practices to your meeting’s participants is a critical step. We’ve made public speaking easy with these talking points.
Recycling Container Loan Program
For small public, or private events of any size, OCSWMD can loan recycling containers, potentially provide drop-off and collection of those containers, and in some cases assist with organizing volunteers. OCSWMD involvement depend son whether the event is public or private, how much notice is given and the type and volume of recyclable material to be collected
Compost Collection at Special Events in Orange County
In some cases OCSWMD can provide organic waste diversion for composting at larger public events in Orange County. Level of OCSWMD involvement depends on the notice given, commitment of the organizer, contact with food vendors to ensure they are using compostable serving ware, and quality and volume of organic waste that will be produced at the event.
For smaller public and private events, organic waste collection consultation services are available from OCSWMD staff at no cost. OCSWMD can further assist with organics waste diversion if the event organizer agrees to serve only on compostable and/or recyclable serving ware (see this guide), have people assigned to monitor the compost collection to keep it free of plastic and metal contamination, and lastly can bring the compostable material to an agreed upon compost drop-off location, possibly one of our Commercial Organics Collection Program participants.
There is one public food waste drop-off located at the Walnut Grove Church Rd. Solid Waste Convenience Center available to residents that can accept post-consumer event waste.
This is NOT your backyard compost. Post-consumer food waste should go to a commercial composting company to be safely made into healthy soil additives.
Fork It Over
Reduce waste in the first place at your special event by replacing single use disposable utensils with durable, stainless steel forks, spoons and knives, on loan on a first come, first served basis from the Orange County Solid Waste Management Department. In collaboration with the PTA Thrift Store, we have collected over 200 sets (standard fork, desert fork, standard knife, tea and tablespoons) of utensils to loan-- the patterns don't match but they are charming, stainless, and carbon-neutral.
Call (919) 968-2788 or email well in advance to schedule your event. You pick up the clean, sorted and containerized utensils, and an empty bucket from the Orange County Solid Waste Management office before your event. You return the clean boxes with washed and sorted utensils ready for the next event. There is no other cost, the loan program is absolutely free.
Donations of clean stainless steel utensils in good condition are needed and WELCOME! Stainless steel standard forks, desert forks, standard knives (not steak knives), teaspoons, and tablespoons only, please-- no plastic handled picnic ware.
Donations for Fork It Over can be dropped off at the Orange County Solid Waste Management Department administrative office at 1207 Eubanks Rd. Monday – Friday from 8AM-5PM to the attention of Muriel Williman. The more utensils we collect, the more events we can serve.
We could not do what we do without the fine help of outstanding volunteers. OCSWMD often seeks volunteer assistance to help with special events and programs. Volunteer activities range from help with recycling and compost collection at special events such as the Carrboro Music Festival and Farm to Fork, door-to-door outreach at apartment complexes and during UNC student move-in to teach best recycling practices, education at Solid Waste Convenience Centers, and helping with flow at our popular Shred-a-thons.
Volunteer hours with OCSWMD qualify for Community/Learning Service Hour credits, and OCSWMD volunteers are eligible to open a Local Government Credit Union Account. Other perks, such as event T-shirts and free food, as well as feeling great for helping our community care for the earth and our economy, are also often part of the bargain
Join our list-serv to be alerted to volunteer opportunities as soon as they they arise.
OCSWM can provide tours for classroom size groups and organizations, for 3rd grade and older. Tours last approximately one hour and are free. The Orange County Municipal Solid Waste Landfill and recycling facilities are an excellent educational and public resource. These tours provide experience-based instruction regarding principles of modern landfill technology and anatomy, methane production and capture, hydrology, the economics of waste management, social impacts, waste diversion strategies, and the specifics of the Orange County Solid Waste Management program including regulations, recycling processing and markets, household hazardous waste collection, electronics recycling and much more.
Save operation expenses and disposal costs and simultaneously protect the environment by reducing waste in the first place! Solid Waste Management staff can provide free expert technical support for schools, businesses, civic groups, faith-based organizations and other Orange County entities to determine elements of the waste stream that can be reduced, reused or recycled. Recycling consultation services can also be provided to help ensure the success of an in-house recycling collection program or special events.