Orange County leaders may be forced to change how its recycling program is paid for.  The county says its recycling efforts have reduced trash in landfills by nearly 60 percent.  The county has been charging fees on property tax bills for the last decade to help pay for the program.  But the fee was never approved by the General Assembly.  The county manager's suggestion to privatize recycling pickup was resisted by some county commissioners. 

Counties across North Carolina are embarking on one of their official after-Christmas duties – disposing of hundreds of tons of Christmas trees. Here's what's happening in Wilmington.

A new program in Greensboro aims to keep old mattresses from being sent to the dump.

In what is believed to be the first initiative of its kind in the country the City is partnering with Mattress Go Round. The Greensboro company recycles old mattresses and box springs by repairing, sanitizing and rebuilding them for resale. President and Founder of the company Robert Savino says keeping the bulky mattresses out of landfills will save space and money.

North Carolina is hoping to find better uses for discarded food. A new study from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources finds that residents and businesses generate over a million tons of food waste a year. Scott Mouw is director of the state recycling program.

Scott Mouw: We now should turn our attention to diverting that material from landfills and to other kinds of uses, whether it's using the food for donation to food banks, or to composting, or to other uses that may eventually turn into energy like in anaerobic digestion.

Officials in Currituck County are trying to restore oyster populations by getting consumers to recycle the shells. The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has set up receiving areas at the Barco and Moyock Recycling Centers. The agency's Patricia Smith is asking residents and restaurants to take shells to one of those two designated sites:

North Carolina's electric cooperatives want you to get rid of that old refrigerator or freezer that's in your basement or garage. The Fridge and Freezer Farewell Program is meant to get secondary, older and inefficient models out of circulation. Valerie Woods works for GreenCo Solutions which helps the electric coops reach their energy efficiency and renewable energy goals. She says nothing goes to waste.

Valerie Woods: "They break out the insulating foam, they recycle the refrigerants, all the plastics and metals are recycled as well as the capacitors."

A North Carolina law goes into effect this week that bans electronics from landfills. Starting Friday, materials like computer equipment and televisions will have to go to local recycling facilities. Lowell Shaw of Wake County Waste Management says the law keeps elements in electronics hardware like cadmium and mercury from seeping into groundwater.

New Research at North Carolina State University points to the disadvantages of improperly disposing of biodegradable plastics. The products are designed to break down in composting bins. James Levis is an N.C. State PhD candidate and one of the study's organizers. He says the problem is that most biodegradable plastics are being thrown in the trash.

A former Alcoa smelting plant in Stanly County will now be home to an electronics recycling center. 

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources has released a new study showing growth in recycling-related jobs in the state. Private sector jobs in the recycling industry have increased by about 5 percent since 2008 according to the study. Sherry Yarkosky with the state Recycling Business Assistance Center says the study reinforces that recycling helps not just the environment.