Dave Johnson oversees the Ocracoke Convenience Site and has made improvements. Photo: C. Leinbach

By Rita Thiel

The Ocracoke Convenience Site has updated specifications for recycling and garbage disposal. 

Dave Johnson, head site attendant, has worked to clean up and better organize the site.

He changed the entrance so that people can drop off recycling first. He and his assistant help islanders to put the right trash/recycling in the correct bin.

He also bought magnetic signs for each bin with his own money.  

“I like to get things done,” he said. “Why wait to get funds approved for something we need now?  It was simple enough. I could do it on my own.” 

He particularly notes changes in the co-mingle recycling dumpster.

When the co-mingle and cardboard leaves the island, it goes to the East Carolina Vocational Center in Greenville where it is sorted, separated, baled and then shipped to the appropriate processing mills. 

“If we send contaminated bins–those with items not acceptable–then they have to bale this and send it to the landfill for us,” he said. “We’re then charged a double tipping fee for this.” 

When the co-mingle dumpster is emptied the next time, he will start with an uncontaminated bin and strongly enforce it so that the recycling actually works.

 “We need everyone to follow the recycling instructions,” Johnson said.

Other changes may come in time when the busy tourist season begins, he said, but for now, his improvements are working.

 “So far, pretty good,” he said.

Changes to the recycling business are frequent, he said, and repeats a motto he learned: “When in doubt, throw it out.” 

As of his last meeting with county officials, the following is a list of what is and what is not recyclable. 

The co-mingle bin now has stricter rules for what goes into it. Photo: C. Leinbach

Takes plastics, metal cans and mixed paper as described below


 Yes: #1 & #2 bottles and jugs only, such as milk jugs, soda, water, juice, detergent, shampoo. For now, lids are okay, on or off. No plastics #5 or #6. “These should be emptied, rinsed and scraped clean, with less than a spoonful left, please,” Johnson said.

 No: Yogurt, jello, pudding,or snack cups; butter or cottage cheese containers; microwave meals or food containers; No bags,baggies or loose pieces of plastic wrapping or packaging

Mixed paper

Yes: Newsprint

Computer paper and other sheet paper not bound (must be larger than a large post-it note)

Junk mail- all is accepted right now

Paper bags

Brown packing paper (clean, with no tape or labels)

No: Magazines or other bound paper materials such as books, journals, intact notebooks. 

Single-layer cardboard, cereal, pop tart, pasta or other food boxes or thin cardboard wrappings; detergent or soap boxes;

Waxed paper containers or waxed boxes or paper of any kind

Napkins, paper towels or rolls, toilet paper or rolls, tissues, paper plates

Scraps of paper


Yes: Food cans (lids okay, pop top or screw on)

Beverage cans

No: Aluminum foil, foil food wrappers, oil cans, scraps of metal or siding, gutters, etc.


Yes: Beverage containers and food jars only (mayonnaise, salad dressing, peanut butter, etc.). All of these glass jars need to be emptied, rinsed or scraped out.

No: Glassware, dishes, window glass, light bulbs or other household glass. Spent compact fluorescent light bulbs can be taken to the Tideland EMC office on Odd Fellows Lane to be recycled.


Yes: Corrugated cardboard, broken down (can have a non-waxed photo print label on the box). All cardboard must be dry and clean. No previously wet will be accepted. If cardboard is wet, throw it in trash bin.

Dave Johnson monitors the trash bins at the exit to the convenience site. Photo: C. Leinbach
The entrance to the Ocracoke Convenience Site was changed recently. Photo: C. Leinbach




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