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When will the New Hanover County landfill be full and what will the county do then?

Ken Little

With measures in place to reduce the waste stream, the existing county landfill at 5210 U.S. 421 North, New Hanover County [Map this], will likely remain open for decades to come, says Lynn Bestul, county solid waste planner.

“It’s probably about 40 years if things are left in operation the way they are now,” Bestul says.

Between July 1, 2008, and June 30, 2009, just under 232,000 tons of garbage were accepted at the landfill. Of that, Bestul says, more than 124,000 tons went into the landfill, while more than 116,000 tons were recycled.

As of Oct. 1, plastic bottles, wooden pallets and oil filters will not be accepted at the landfill. Items like aluminum cans are already banned, and construction and demolition debris are also removed from the waste stream.

County commissioners are looking at the possibility of retaining a private company to operate the landfill, along with the recycling and waste-to-energy operations, Bestul says.

One hundred tons of garbage accepted at the landfill is reduced to about 10 tons of ash, Bestul says.

It won’t be easy to find another landfill site in New Hanover County, Bestul adds. The current landfill has been in use since the early 1980s.

“In the state of North Carolina, it is next to impossible to site a new landfill east of I-95,” he says, giving rise to the possibility of eventually shipping refuse elsewhere for a fee.

“The plan is really to expand the life cycle of this landfill,” Bestul says.

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