It’s Paper, Not Plastic, for Charleston County

February 25, 2011

Investigative Reports

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The NerveBy Warwick Jones
Citizen Reporter

By the end of June of this year, Charleston County residents most likely will not be using plastic bags to dispose of their lawn and garden waste.

The county finance committee earlier this month unanimously agreed not to accept garden trash in plastic bags at the Bees Ferry landfill after June 30. It expects that special paper bags will replace plastic bags.

The committee noted that the municipalities would have to decide how to handle this change as they picked up the trash.

Presently Charleston County removes plastic manually from some of the compost made from the garden waste. It is inferred that the municipalities will have the option to continue collecting the debris in plastic bags but will have to remove the plastic before delivery to Bees Ferry.

The country has set a 40 percent recycling goal and to achieve this target, plastic bags need to go.

Charleston County has been processing part of the garden waste into “high quality” compost which is readily saleable to nurseries and others. This compost is free of plastic.

The balance of garden waste which is composted contains plastic (from the bags) and although there is some demand for this product, it is limited. Much of it is placed in the landfill.

In consequence of its higher recycling goal, volumes of garden waste are increasing and taking up landfill space. By removing plastic from the compost and making its better quality, a greater proportion will be better quality and more ready saleable.

A higher level of sales should take pressure off the landfill.

Councilman Dickie Schweers was a tad skeptical about paper bags and their ability to endure. He thought the plan should be considered through a trial.

Council member Keith Summey also thought that the cost of paper bags may be high. The county might purchase the bags and sell them to the municipalities. The county was likely to get a better price as a larger bulk buyer, he said.