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â€¨â€¨Lorena Pankey unscrewed an old bottle of motor oil and tilted it upside down.â€¨ Thick and chocolate-like goop came slowly oozing out of the white bottle and into the oil recycling tank at the Blackburn Convenience Center in Newton. She wiped perspiration from her forehead.
â€¨â€śIâ€™m glad thereâ€™s a place where I can get rid of all this junk,â€ť Pankey said. â€śItâ€™s less waste I have to deal with.â€ť â€¨
Pankey, a Conover resident, is but one of many Catawba County residents utilizing a growing list of recycling services the county offers â€” only increasing the Greater Hickory areaâ€™s reputation as one of North Carolinaâ€™s most green-minded areas. â€¨
For the last decade, Catawba County has ranked as one of the top five counties in the state for recycling, according to a N.C. recycling report.â€¨Ranking as the No. 2 recycler for the last four years, Catawba County officials said area residents have set an example for the state to follow. â€¨
â€śCatawba County has always had a high percentage of its residents that recycle,â€ť said Jack Chandler, assistant director of Catawba County Utilities and Engineering. â€śCurbside recycling is available to nearly everyone in the county, which helps out a lot.â€ťâ€¨
In fiscal year 2009-10, Catawba County recycled 35,063 tons of material. With a population of about 157,002 residents then, the countyâ€™s per capita recovery was 446.7 pounds. Only Pitt County had a better per capita recycling performance. â€¨
Amanda Kain, Catawba County Waste Reduction coordinator, said residential curbside recycling programs, the countyâ€™s partnerships with municipalities and the new Eco-Complex landfill helped the county form a â€śmodelâ€ť program. â€¨
â€śOur residents do a great job of participating with the countyâ€™s recycling programs,â€ť Kain said. â€¨
Kain said the countyâ€™s ultimate goal is to get 20 percent of the total waste stream coming from recycling. â€¨The emphasis on recycling is felt throughout the county. â€¨
In Newton, Public Works Director Wilce Martin said the city has gone from 58 to 81 percent recyclable in the last two years.
â€¨â€śIt will help our landfills last a lot longer,â€ť Martin said. â€śWe will be taking a lot of things out of the waste stream of the landfill and will help save our natural resources, as well.â€ť
â€¨Catawba County landfill superintendent Rodney Hamby agrees with Martin and said an increase in recycling helps the landfill thrive long term.
â€¨â€śEvery item our citizens recycle is less waste we have to bury,â€ť he said. â€¨
Hickory has also seen an increase in those participating in recycling services, with more than 12,000 tons of material being recycled last year.
â€¨â€śWeâ€™ve seen an increase in those who are participating,â€ť said Andrew Ballentine, Hickory Solid Waste manager. â€śDue to the downturn in the economy, you are seeing less volume because people are buying less. Ultimately, when the economy turns around, we will see a bump in volume.â€ť Â
â€¨In the last year, Conover recycled about 33 tons of material a month â€” numbers that their solid waste supervisor Keith Lynch said are consistent. â€¨
â€śOur routes are pretty full, and the guys very rarely get somebody that doesnâ€™t put out (recyclables),â€ť Lynch said. â€śAbout 80 percent of our customer base does recycle, which is pretty good for the industry.â€ť â€¨
For more information about Catawba County recycling, contact Kain at firstname.lastname@example.org. â€¨Â Â