MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Each month, about 15 percent of the material Mecklenburg County Solid Waste takes in to be recycled is actually trash. They take in recycling from Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, and Union counties.
"Unfortunately, many people don’t understand that it costs them money. It costs us to money to pull these things out. It costs us money to repair our equipment that these things damage when they go through our plant operation, then we have to pay for the company to process it and then we have to pay another company to haul it to the landfill," Director Jeff Smithberger said.
In fact, Smithberger said it costs over $100,000 each month.
That adds up to over $1.2 million a year.
June 2019 saw the highest amount of non-recyclables in the mix at 19 percent. Smithberger also took us to the facility where the material gets sorted out and he said even there, they can only catch so much.
"The contamination gets mixed in with material that we're sending out to markets, that then causes those markets to reject our materials,” Smithberger said. “Once they reject our materials, that has to go back to landfills."
And the whole point of recycling is to cut down on waste.
"Nobody wants me to come to their community and say, hey it's time for me to put a new landfill there,” said Smithberger. “Waste reduction is the key element to recycle. By recycling, it reduces our dependency on landfills."
So, what can and can't be recycled?
Find the list here.
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