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Editorial: Recycling still valuable

The demand for recyclable materials may have plummeted because of the global recession, but the necessity of recycling continues to rise. Most individuals and local governments don’t recycle to make money. They do it to save the environment, and that remains a high priority.
You don’t have to be a tree-hugger to appreciate the wisdom of making the county landfill last as long as possible. The old, 66-acre landfill on Airport Road reached capacity in 1987, and getting land for the current landfill on Campbell Road was a painful process. Talk about the Not In My Back Yard effect. Neighbors of prospective sites in several locations fought the landfill strenuously. Owners of the property ultimately targeted by the county ó 196 acres of rolling farmland, the historic Mingus farm ó did not want to sell. The condemnation process had to go through the courts. If today’s property rights advocates had been active back then, who knows where the landfill would be. This might be one issue upon which they and those wanting to protect farmland would have been on the same side.
The alternative was to build an incinerator whose steam was to be sold to Celanese. Imagine the air quality issues that might have arisen from that ó not to mention the risk of selling to an industry that since then has gone through several ownership changes and downsizings.
The Campbell Road landfill opened in 1989 and has had three expansions. The last one, a “cell” that opened in 2005, cost $3.6 million to construct ó a nearly yearlong process that involved clearing land, putting in a liner of mat-like clay and topping that with a thick plastic liner. Pipes were needed to collect drainage and pump it into Salisbury sewer lines.
Meanwhile, some ó not enough ó of the plastic, paper and glass that could go into the landfill now is recycled. It might not bring high dollar, but Rowan is fortunate to have a holding facility that enables it to wait out the downturn for some materials. As Kathryn Jolly, director of the county’s Department of Environmental Management, said, “Even if selling recyclables is just break-even, it’s still saving us landfill space.” That alone is enough to profit Rowan County and its natural resources.

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