N.C. Grants Aim To Reduce Landfilling

To Expand North Carolina's efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle, the Wake County Environmental Services' solid waste management division has awarded nearly $50,000 to local companies and universities based on innovative recycling programs.

Awards were granted to six local businesses' programs that promise significant benefits and have practices applicable to other businesses:

  • $7,500 to Planet Earth Projects of Raleigh to recycle construction and demolition (C&D) debris and to install a grinder to recycle concrete from demolition projects;

  • $10,000 each to Peace College and Meredith College, both based in Raleigh, to expand campus-wide recycling programs, increase recycling's availability to students, faculty, staff and residents, and implement composting projects to recycle food waste generated in the campuses' cafeterias;

  • $10,000 to Brooks Contractor, located in a nearby county, to collect food waste in Wake County for composting and to conduct composting pilot projects; and

  • $10,000 to North Carolina State University's (NCSU) Wood Products Department and The Leaflight Inc., both based in Raleigh, to coordinate a wood and food waste recycling workshop in October.

“The program's ultimate goal is to target the commercial waste sector to get waste out of landfills,” says Kelley Dennings, Wake County's commercial waste reduction specialist. This year, eight businesses applied and six received the grant. The money, up to $10,000 each, is funded through the Environmental Services division. Recipients are chosen by a committee comprised of representatives of the county's 12 municipalities.

The grants were awarded in January, at which time a quarter of the funding was given to each business to begin their projects. In May, recipients provided progress reports and, based on that, each was awarded another quarter of their funding.

“It's not exactly related to the amount of materials they recycle or how they're doing so far,” Dennings says. “We just have to make sure they're following a good course of action.” The next status report will be due around October.

To date, 1,776 tons of material have been recycled through the grant program, most of which has been accomplished by Planet Earth Projects' C&D recycling program. Dennings says it's difficult to gauge how much material has been recycled in the other projects because they are starting up new programs or are setting-up educational events rather than conducting recycling or composting projects.

“The first three months have dealt with setting-up the programs and getting capital material,” she says. “By the second and third phases, tonnages should increase.”

Since the grant program began in 1995, it has changed in scope, Dennings says. “Prior to this year, the director wanted to fund new programs,” she says. “But very few applicants made the cut … so this year, we went with a broad-based approach to just get waste out of landfills.”