Recycling is becoming more popular across North Carolina, and Dare County recycles the most household paper and container materials per-capita in the state.
A report from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality says the average Dare County household recycled about 2.56 tons last year.
Dare County Solid Waste Supervisor Douglas Huff credits public outreach efforts with the increase in recycling. Huff points out that Dare also draws a lot of tourists from the North, where recycling is more of a common habit.
“They're heavy into recycling up north, and when they come here, you'd be surprised the people that walk through our walk-through recycling places instead of throwing it away," he said.
The DEQ report says household recycling is up about 5 percent statewide, and that more companies are demanding paper and container materials.
Brunswick County ranked 13th for household recycling and 6th for drop-off items, like used roof shingles.
Brunswick Solid Waste Coordinator Micki Bozeman credits residents who are curious about what can and cannot be recycled. She also credits tourists and transplants from up North who also pulling their weight.
"They're used to it. They understand it. They want to make sure they're doing it properly,” Bozeman said.
Wake County saw a small decrease in the per capita recycling rate last year. Solid Waste Director John Roberson says that's probably because it's been almost a decade since the county traded small curb-side recycling boxes for full-size carts, making a lot more space for recyclables.
“When we went to the larger containers at the curb, we saw the rates of recycling increase pretty substantially all across our municipalities within Wake County,” Roberson said. “And since, that program is pretty much finished, everybody's got the larger carts now, we've seen those recycling rates sort of level out and not be increasing significantly.”
Roberson said he knows a lot of recyclables are still being tossed in the garbage – and vice versa – so the county is now focusing on education to limit contamination.