If the county can no longer afford to recycle

Published 11:23 pm Tuesday, July 21, 2020

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To the Editor:

It broke my heart to see that the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners voted to end its recycling program, as reported by the Washington Daily News on July 7.

Plastic is adding to our already overflowing landfills, harming our waterways and wildlife, and now literally raining down on us as microplastics. Animals can mistake plastics or polystyrene (also known as Styrofoam) for food. Either that animal dies and disrupts the food chain, or we eventually consume the animal. It is estimated that the average North Carolinian ingests a credit card worth of plastic each week — about nine ounces a year!

While I understand that the Board must do what is fiscally responsible, it can still aim to be part of the plastic solution. Nothing we use for a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our rivers and oceans for hundreds of years, especially when we don’t need it. Fortunately, Congress has the opportunity to act on legislation, called the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, that would help address our plastic problem. The act includes provisions that would ban many of the worst single-use plastics, including polystyrene foam take-out containers and place a moratorium on new plastic-producing facilities. The bill includes plans to increase the availability of reusable and recyclable alternatives, alleviating the burden on recycling for local governments.
If Beaufort County can no longer afford to recycle, we should raise our voices to absolve the need for recycling. Write to your U.S. Representative, whether George “G.K.” Butterfield Jr. for N.C.’s 1st District or Gregory Murphy for N.C.’s 3rd District, and urge them to support this bill. It’s time to demand a safer North Carolina and nation, now and forever.

Kara Nunnally

Environment North Carolina