Task Force Tackles Plastics In WNC

Jan 23, 2019

You’ve probably heard about the movement to reduce the use of plastic straws, which can’t be recycled and end up in landfills and in the environment. As BPR’s Helen Chickering reports, local environmental groups are on a mission to expand that campaign here in Western North Carolina.

I’m standing in the Curbside Management Warehouse in North Asheville, if you live in Buncombe or a surrounding county, this is probably where your recycling ends up.  Nancy and Barry Lawson own the business. Lawson is taking me on a tour. We’re in the middle of what looks like an organized landfill.  Bales of trash, the stuff that can’t be recycled, are stacked high, nearly touching the ceiling. 

HC:  And you have to pay to have it hauled away to the landfill?

“Oh yeah, says Lawson, “we’ll probably pay $10,000 this month to get rid of this trash.”

A lot of that trash is plastic, mostly bags along with straws, forks and other   non-recyclables.  Lawson estimates workers pull out 40 tons of non-recyclable plastics  every week.  That doesn’t sit well with Eric Bradford

“Recycling is good, but we need to go one step further. We need to pull some of those things out of the recycling bin that cannot be recycled,” says Bradford, Director of Operations at the nonprofit Asheville GreenWorks.  He’s one of the organizers of the newly formed Plastics Reduction Taskforce;  community volunteers on a mission to convince residents and businesses in Western North Carolina to reduce their use of plastic.  

“This is not a place to come at get up the Festivus Pole; we’re not going to air our grievances,” says Bradford, “we’re going to act!”

Action that includes everything from creating educational materials to helping local businesses find alternatives to plastic.

“The Plastic Reduction Task Force will help put the tools  in front of them,” says Bradford,’ Things like,  like oh I didn’t know I could get paper straws from this person, I didn’t know there was a commercial composter in the area that could save me money.”  

And that’s music to the ears of business owner Barry Lawson, who is pointing to a platform above us where workers are pulling out non-recyclable materials from the mix – and a lot of that, is plastic.   

For BPR News, I’m Helen Chickering.

According to Asheville GreenWorks, the Plastics Reduction Taskforce will work to reduce the region’s collective dependence of single use plastic.  The Taskforce will research best practices, create events, educational materials and measures that will support a decrease in plastic consumption.

An interest meeting was held on January 23 and was focused on setting up sub-committees to address action areas.  

Residents who are interested in learning more or getting involved can contact Eric Bradford at Asheville GreenWorkseric@ashevillegreenworks.org / 828-232-7144