N.C. Law to Ban Plastic Bottles from Landfills

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Under a new law that takes effect Oct. 1, North Carolina will be banning all rigid plastic containers from landfills. This includes any bottles with a neck smaller than the container itself.

The legislation was created back in 2005, and will focus largely on the recovery of Polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This plastic, commonly identified by the number “1″ inside a recycling symbol on the bottle, is the resin of choice for most soda and water bottles.

This North Carolina landfill will soon have to adhere to the plastic bottle ban. Photo: Scelp.org

This North Carolina landfill will soon have to adhere to the plastic bottle ban. Photo: Scelp.org

North Carolina is also building the nation’s largest facility to recycle PET bottles, which will able to process 280 million pounds of material per year. One of the primary partners in this venture is carpet manufacturer Shaw Industries Group, LLC, which can turn recycled PET into polyester for use in carpeting.

North Carolina is already home to the second largest high-density polyethylene (HDPE) recycling facility in the U.S., Envision Plastics. HDPE is the other commonly used plastic bottle resin, which can be found in detergent bottles and milk jugs.

The state will be inspecting landfills starting in October, but it’s unlikely that individuals will be fined for trashing plastic bottles unless they are caught unloading a large amount.

“It’s not going to be a Big Brother law, but the best way to be in compliance with the law is to recycle plastic bottles,” says Scott Mouw, environmental supervisor for the North Carolina Department of the Environment and Natural Resources. “Everyone wants to do the right thing, and the right thing is to recycle.”

North Carolina already has a substantial list of items banned from landfills, which ranges from aluminum cans to white goods. Also being added to the banned products list in October is motor oil filters.

While PET and HDPE represent the largest population of plastic bottles, a growing alternative are bioplastics. These are made of renewable materials that biodegrade in a commercial compost system.

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