This story appeared Sunday in some of the Observer’s regional publications.
Recycled material from the western Piedmont and as far away as South Carolina will be hauled to a recycling center in Conover after it gets a $13.5 million modernization.
That work will be the last step in bringing a greatly expanded recycling program to rural Catawba County, Hickory, Conover and perhaps Maiden.
New carts will replace plastic bins in rural Catawba County by Oct. 1, under terms of an agreement approved recently by the board of county commissioners with waste-hauling company Republic Services.
Instead of a worker sorting recyclables at the curb, a truck with a mechanical arm will empty cans, paper and glass directly into the truck for sorting later.
Then, starting Jan. 1, 2014, rural Catawba residents will be able to recycle more types of paper, plastic and glass. Once that phase begins, county engineer Barry Edwards expects, recycling will increase 30 percent.
Catawba already leads the state with the highest level of recycling per person. Assistant utilities director Jack Chandler says 96 percent of households recycle at least monthly.
For the rest of this year, the county will continue to collect only aluminum and steel cans; glass bottles and jars; plastic bottles coded 1, 2, 3 and 4; and newspapers, magazines and phone books.