Recycling is becoming more widespread in Surry, according to a recent report that shows increases in the number of pounds recycled per person as well as the county moving up in the state rankings.
Based on figures for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, Surry County is No. 61 among the 100 North Carolina counties in total public recycling poundage of recyclables, according to the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. That is an improvement from 2010-2011, when the county ranked 75th in the state.
At that time, Surry was recycling at the rate of 52.74 pounds per capita, or person, a figure derived by dividing the total tonnage of materials collected and managed by the county’s recycling programs by its population.
That grew to 68.97 pounds per person for 2012-2013, the most recent year for which statistics are available, covering the output as of last June 30.
Meanwhile, Surry County ranked No. 54 in the recovery of common household recyclables per capita during that period — which are being recycled at the rate of 57.91 pounds per person.
The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources uses municipal and county report data to profile public recycling efforts and to measure the annual per-capita recycling rates for each county in the state.
Catawba County is the leader in recycling with 639 pounds per person for 2012-2013, far surpassing second-place Pitt County at 420 pounds per person.
Dare County, with 280 pounds per person, leads in the category of common household recyclables recovered.
Momentum In City
The increase in recycling tonnage and pounds per person in Surry in the last couple of years coincides with the implementation of a curbside recycling program in January 2012 in Mount Airy, the county’s largest municipality.
While the county has no group appointed specifically to promote recycling, the city has the Mount Airy Recycling Advisory Committee, whose chairman is enthusiastic about growing public acceptance of the environmentally friendly practice.
“In the city, we are seeing an increasing interest,” Ken Klamfoth said Wednesday, which is reflected in both recycling participation and pounds generated per household.
“We are seeing some very good participation rates in some parts of the city and we’ve got a couple of opportunities (for the same) in other parts of the city,” the committee chairman added.
Mount Airy is on the cutting edge of recycling user-friendliness, in that it has allowed the single-stream, or co-mingling, style of curbside recycling since the beginning of the program. That approach, allowing residents to place paper products, plastic containers, glass bottles and other recyclables into the same container, is now considered the industry standard.
“I think that’s a tremendous help,” Klamfoth said of the single-stream method that naturally promotes participation due to the convenience factor. Items collected here are taken to a Winston-Salem recycling center for sorting.
During 2012-2013, 466 tons of single-stream recyclables were collected in Mount Airy through curbside recycling.
In January, the committee announced a series of initiatives aimed at maximizing participation, including greater visibility at events such as the Autumn Leaves Festival so the recycling message can reach large concentrations of people; presentations by committee members to local civic clubs to explain the recycling program; and working with schools in the city as part of the campaign.
That has included students recently developing proposed logos and slogans for curbside recycling in Mount Airy.
“We had excellent participation,” Klamfoth said of that effort, with the winning logo and slogan to be announced soon.
Also, at least one presentation has been made to a community group by Jeff Boyles, public services director for Mount Airy, who oversees the city’s recycling efforts.
“We’re still working on that,” Klamfoth said of civic organization contacts.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-719-1924 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.