Still Talkin' Trash

Jenny Scarborough
Clean your recyclables!
Clean your recyclables!

The new waste disposal system for Ocracoke began January 1, 2012. 

There is no longer curbside pick up on the island.  Trash and recyclables are being compacted at the convenience site and hauled by David's Trash service via Swan Quarter.  In the past, residential waste removal was contracted to Dare County and left via Hatteras.

Things are going "fairly good," said site attendant William Nathan Spencer.  He said people are getting in the habit of pulling in north of the Sheriff's office, and exiting to the south, between the jail and the Post Office.  Which of the two northern gates is open depends on which compactor is in use at the time. 

Three new compactors were purchased and installed by the county, funded by taxpayers.  There are four compactors in total: two for household waste and construction debris, one for commingled recyclables, and one for cardboard.  All the containers are where they are going to stay. 

Spencer said they are expecting two more containers:  one for metal and tires, and one for old appliances.  A container just for glass recyclables may be added during the tourist season.

The service provided by David's Trash "is about as good as it can be," said Spencer.  "They are keeping up most of the time, except when there are equipment break downs.  All in all it's not great, but it's not bad either." 


Recyclables are in fact being recycled, said Spencer.  How much gets re-used "depends upon the people doing the recycling," he said.  The container goes to a vocational training center in Greenville, where the materials are sorted.  If people haven't washed food remnants from cans and jars, they will not be recycled. 

"It's good we started in winter," said Spencer, so that local people will be used to the system before the busy season.  "Most of the time I don't have a lot of trouble with tourists," he said, "They use facilities like this where they come from." 

In January, an average of 4 containers filled with household trash and construction debris left the island each week.  Neither the cardboard nor commingled recycling containers are full yet.  As the season starts, the amount of construction debris will drop, and the amount of recycled material will increase, said Spencer.

"There's not a whole lot of difference" from before, said Spencer.  "If all goes all right, we'll be all right.  Mechanical breakdowns, electrical breakdowns and ferry breakdowns will always affect us.  The situation is magnified because now we're handling the trash.  The bottom line is, there's so many tons of trash and it's got to leave the island." 

While both Spencer and Bill Hocutt, the other full time site attendant, see the potential for things to "be ugly in July,"  both are hoping for the best.  Kevin Pfeuffer also works part time. 

The Ocracoke convenience site is open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Keith uses the new facility
Keith uses the new facility

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