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NHC to open Hazardous Household Waste Facility

New Hanover County

90 percent of New Hanover County residents don’t recycle or properly dispose of household waste. 

It’s a stunning number and one that county officials chalk up to multiple causes.  But tomorrow the County will open a Household Hazardous Waste facility that is expected to make a significant dent in the improper disposal of residential trash. 


County officials wanted to learn more about the waste disposal habits of their residents.  So they set up a waste composition study.  They painstakingly picked through the all of the garbage heading into the landfill. 

And what they learned, says Joe Suleyman, Director of the County’s Environment Management Department, is that a significant portion of recyclable material isn’t going to the right place – including items banned from landfills – such as beverage containers and yard waste. 

“So when we take the entire waste stream and we say ‘what is recyclable or reusable?’ really less than 10% of that is being captured within the current systems that are available within New Hanover County.”

Suleyman says most people don’t understand what happens to the trash once it leaves their property.  Even supposedly biodegradable waste decomposes much more slowly when it’s dumped in a landfill.

“Any time we’ve dug into the landfill… we actually pull up waste that was deposited 15, 20, 30 years ago.  Say – a newspaper.  And when we pull that out, you can still read it – as if you’d just gotten it off a newsstand shelf.”

That’s because the garbage is insulated from rainwater, oxygen, and other degrading elements. 

Suleyman says tomorrow’s Grand Opening of the County’s Household Hazardous Waste Facility is an important milestone in changing the way county residents treat their household trash.  

He’ll continue his educational efforts by getting into schools and in front of kids.  It’s the younger generation that Suleyman finds particularly receptive to the message that it’s important to recycle not just plastics, paper, and cans – but to properly dispose of all household waste. 

Grand Opening - NHC's Hazardous Household Waste Facility:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013; 

Ceremony, which is open to the public, begins at 10 AM.

The facility's hours are 10 AM - 2 PM, Monday through Friday, and 8 AM - Noon on Saturday.

WHERELocated at 3002 US Hwy 421 N., New Hanover County residents will be able to dispose of their waste free of charge.

WHAT:  Household hazardous waste material contains chemicals that are toxic, flammable, corrosive or reactive. Some residential waste can be pesticides, paint, used oil, antifreeze, fertilizers, electronic waste, batteries, mercury-containing bulbs, lamps, or thermostats.

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.