Nags Head to stay with Bay Disposal for recycling pick-up while examining future options

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The Town of Nags Head plans to stick with their current curbside recycling hauler while looking at their options for the future, even though the materials are being incinerated instead of recycled.

The Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to give Bay Disposal permission to continue to divert Nags Head’s recyclables at least through June 30, according to a news release.

“We want everyone to understand that the recyclables collected currently are not being sold to a manufacturer who will re-use the material; instead, they are being incinerated in a waste-to-energy facility,” said Nags Head Town Manager Cliff Ogburn.

“While that is better than sending the material to a landfill, it is not true recycling,” Ogburn said.

The company notified the town on January 7 that the materials were being transported to a waste-to-energy facility in Portsmouth because the hauler had been unable to find a purchaser for the material.

The waste is used to generate electricity, while steam from the facility helps meet the needs of the nearby U.S. Navy shipyard.

“The recycling industry has been negatively impacted by China’s decision to stop taking America’s recyclables,” Ogburn said. “We are now among the many local governments throughout the country that are revisiting their recycling programs due to cost increases.”

Southern Shores, the first municipality on the Outer Banks to offer curbside service, was also examining its contract with Bay Disposal.

Currituck commissioners plan to discuss the future of curbside recycling in Corolla this year during the budget process, according to county spokesperson Randall Edwards.

“The county continues to collect recyclable materials in Corolla,” Edwards said. “We also still have the recycling containers at each of the county’s Convenience Centers for citizens to dispose of recyclable goods.”

In diverting Nags Head’s recyclables to the waste-to-energy facility, Bay Disposal was not fully abiding by their contract with the town, which stipulates that no more than 10 percent by weight of all collected recyclable materials is to be taken to the landfill and/or incinerated without the town’s permission.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has notified the Town that it is aware of the issue and is working on a possible solution for the area.

“Our Board of Commissioners has decided to continue the current process while we investigate other fiscally-responsible and environmentally-friendly options,” Ogburn said.

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Sam Walker was news director for, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 WCMS and Z 92.3 from August 2011 to March 2022.