“More people means more trash:' Leaders work to keep plastic bags out of county landfill

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Right now, there is only one landfill in Horry County and its life expectancy is another 30 to 35 years.

State legislatures are considering a bill that would prevent communities from banning the use of plastic bags. Danny Knight, executive director of the Horry County Solid Waste Authority, said he's against the bill.

"Locals should have a voice in government on plastic bags," said Knight.

According to Knight, the SWA is doing all it can to keeps everything out of the landfill that doesn't belong to save land space. He said they even go in and separate the plastic bags by hand.

"They get in equipment and they make it gum up, and we have to stop and clean it out and gut it out. So, it's expensive. They blow all over the landfill and we have to pick it up manually, one bag at a time. So, they are problematic," Knight said.

The SWA also started recycling construction and demolition materials four years ago. Recycling coordinator Kendra Hooks said the highest point of the landfill is 250 feet and it's expected to last until 2044.

Horry County Councilman Johnny Vaught is in favor of a countywide ban on plastic bags.

"It basically becomes a permanent part of the environment. We don't need to put things like that in our landfill because it shortens the life of our landfill," said Vaught.

Vaught thinks more public education is needed because there won't be another landfill in Horry County.

With the city's push to increase tourism numbers, Vaught noted that "more people means more trash."

"It's an expensive proposition to actually build a land to fill in the first place, and people don't want to live near landfills. So, with the growth of people in Horry County, there's becoming fewer and fewer places," Vaught said. "So, if you got one that's a functioning landfill and it's taking care of business of the trash in Horry County, then you have to hang onto it the longest you can."

Vaught and Knight both agree this is not just a county problem, but one worldwide, and said people need to move toward recycling as a solution.

"So, there's all different kind of ways in this. Technology changes. I think we can find ways to eventually get away from using landfills," said Vaught.

There are some initiatives that will roll out next year to hopefully help with the problem.

"Starting next year, we won't take yard waste in plastic bags. You'll have to put them in paper bags or just dump it into the compost containers," said Knight.

Knight said, in the future, they also hope to keep cardboard out of the landfill to save space.

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