• More than a quarter of the material [actually 27%] that goes into the South Wake Landfill is compostable foodstuff.
  • Of all the material that goes into the landfill, 44% is compostable.
  • At the current rate, the landfill will reach full capacity in 2040.

No landfill has been identified to which Cary's trash will go when the South Wake Landfill is closed. Wherever that trash goes, it will be more expensive to get it there, and almost certainly more expensive to dump it there.

The more we can keep out of the landfill, the longer its effective life. The longer we can extend the life of the landfill, the less money it will cost to dump within that extended life.

This is a case of spending a little money now to save much more in future.

Below is the six-year history of the Town’s monthly sanitation fees which cover trash, yard-waste, and recycling collection. These rates are charged to both residential customers and small businesses. The Town does not provide service to larger commercial customers. As a result, these organizations are required to utilize a private sanitation company.

FISCAL YEAR FY 2022 FY 2021 FY 2020 FY 2019 FY 2018 FY 2017
Sanitation Fee
(Cost per month)
$20.50 $19.50 $19.50 $17.00 $16.00 $16.00
Sanitation Fee
(Cost per year)
$246.00 $234.00 $234.00 $204.00 $192.00 $192.00

The Town of Cary began a pilot program in February in which residents can drop off compostable materials at the Dixon Convenience Center. This is an excellent start.

The goal must be to institute full curbside collection of compostable material for all single-family homes, apartments, condos, and businesses.

Failure to do so now will result in a huge rise in Cary citizens' monthly solid-waste fee in the near future.

A private company [CompostNow] currently collects compost at residents' curbsides. Each week they collect a full bucket at my house and leave an empty one. The cost was $30 a month and it just went up to $40 a month. I'm not a business person, but believe this high cost is caused in part by the relatively large distance between customers' homes. If the Town were to also institute universal curbside pickup, or form a partnership with CompostNow, the cost per stop could be significantly reduced.

The question of whether to institute curbside composting should not be made based on a simple comparison between current cost of composting and the future additional cost of dumping at some distant landfill. A healthy society does not ignore a problem and leave it to future residents to overcome when it manifests.

The populations of Cary and nearby towns are exploding. The amount of trash we generate increases commensurately. When foodstuffs are placed in a landfill, they are broken down in an oxygen-free process called 'anaerobic digestion,' which produces carbon dioxide and the much more harmful gas, methane. [Efforts to capture methane at landfills are woefully inefficient.] These gases escape into our atmosphere, making it even more polluted.

There are good benefits to be had from using the produced compost. Much of Cary's topsoil has been removed in preparation for construction [Why this is allowed must be looked into! – We truly need a Cary Department of the Environment.]. The resulting ground is not absorbent, leading to increased runoff and more frequent flooding.

☉ Ground treated with compost becomes more absorbent, and the flowers, bushes, and trees that grow in this enriched soil are both more beautiful and more beneficial.

☉ Compost eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers, the runoff of which is poisoning our streams, rivers, and oceans.

☉ Studies have shown that playing fields that receive compost treatments lead to significantly fewer head injuries among the young athletes that play on them.

Thank you to the scientists and advocates who kindly schooled me on curbside composting – the science and economics of it; the benefits it will bring; and most importantly, the need for it. We take it to the voters for their verdict.

Read how the Town's provision of an opportunity for citizens to extend the life of the Landfill has been a smashing success, and consider how Cary — instead of following Durham's example — could itself become a leader in this critical environmental initiative.