It may sound like a mild imprecation or swear. But members of Alamance County’s staff are doing more than just venting as they call on area residents to “Tarp it!” on their way to the landfill.
In fact, this laconic declaration is the heart and soul of a new public outreach campaign that’s intended to reduce some of the litter along the highways and byways that lead to Alamance County’s landfill, which is situated off of Austin Quarter Road near the unincorporated community of Saxapahaw.
This outreach campaign was formally unveiled last month when Alamance County’s board of commissioners held its semimonthly meeting in Graham on October 18.
During that evening’s proceedings, Bruce Walker, one of the county’s assistant managers, presented the commissioners with a multi-part strategy to address the accumulation of refuse, which flies off of some of the vehicles that head to the landfill.
Walker told the county’s governing board that he and his colleagues have already been in touch with the N.C. Department of Transportation about the installation of signs to notify residents of the penalties for littering along state-maintained roads. The state agency has agreed to post a number of placards that will warn motorists of the fines that violators may incur, which can be as steep as $1,000 for repeat offenses.
Walker also presented the commissioners with a new flyer that the county has designed in order to encourage residents to use tarps to secure any trash they may haul to the landfill.
The assistant county manager insisted that this imperative to “tarp it,” which appeared at the top of each flyer, has yet to sink in with everyone who hauls their own waste to the landfill.
Walker went on to acknowledge that the trash which turns up along the roads that lead to the landfill generally doesn’t come from the large, commercial waste haulers that frequent the facility.
“It’s mom and pop,” he insisted. “During COVID, everyone decided to clean out their sheds; they may have never come to the landfill before and hadn’t realized there were some rules associated with it.
“We don’t want to come down with a hammer, but at some point, we may need to,” he added. “At some point, if it’s still a problem, we can talk about enforcement.”
Walker’s presentation seemed to resonate especially deeply with county commissioner Pam Thompson. A former school board member who joined the board of commissioners last year, Thompson asked the county’s landfill director, who had distributed the flyers to her and her fellow commissioners, for an additional seven to share with the current members of the Alamance-Burlington school board.
“People don’t think we litter; but we do,” she went on to assert. “We just get out of the habit of being responsible.”