Raleigh recycles; it's the law come October 1

Public service announcements, fliers, and in Raleigh's case, corporate-sponsored gift cards, are all aimed at getting North Carolina households to do their part in complying with a state law kicking in Oct. 1 that bans plastic bottles from landfills.

But don't look for the trash cops to come knocking if soda bottles end up in your garbage cans.

"That's not the spirit of the law," said Scott Mouw, the state's recycling director. "Clearly, this is more of a law of spirit or intent, everyone recognizing the positive reasons to recycle."

Any state enforcement efforts will be aimed at haulers who show up at landfills with big loads of banned material. Most local governments don't have the power or the interest in dogging residents who don't recycle.

"We don't have the resources to police individuals" by going through their garbage bags, said Tim Broome, Johnston County's director of public utilities.

Without such enforcement efforts, though, North Carolina's embrace of recycling has been more of a half-hug. North Carolina missed a 10-year recycling goal it set back in 1991 for reducing trash disposal across the state. In fact, people ended up sending more trash to landfills rather than less. Garbage disposal went from 1.01 tons per person in 1992 to 1.21 tons per person by June 2001.

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