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Cabarrus County and the Cities of Concord and Kannapolis encourage residents to practice simple steps to be ‘cart smart’ about recycling.  Putting non-recyclable items in the recycling bin causes contamination and raises costs, and changes in the global recycling market have affected local recycling streams. To help, the three local governments are participating in Recycle Right, a statewide anti-contamination campaign running September through mid-November.

“Recycling is a long-standing method of reducing waste in our local landfill while conserving our natural resources,” said Kevin Grant, Cabarrus County Sustainability Manager. “It’s important to recycle the right way and improve the quality of material collected through our program.  Knowing what can and cannot go into the cart is vital to maintaining our local recycling programs and aiding North Carolina’s thriving recycling industry.”

When well-meaning residents put non-recyclable items in their recycling cart or bin, it causes contamination of the recycling mix.  That means local material recovery facilities must spend more time and money to sort out the rising levels of non-recyclables and trash.  Foreign countries that were previously a market for poorly sorted U.S. recyclables have tightened quality standards.  Recyclables now need to be cleaner to meet the new international quality requirements or, better yet, be redirected for use by domestic manufacturers with similar high-quality standards.

To help make recycling more efficient, remember these simple tips:

  • Place empty cans, bottles, paper and cardboard in the recycling bin.  Keep everything else out. 
  • Do not bag your recyclable items.
  • Do not put plastic bags, cords, hoses and other string-like items in the recycling bin as they can tangle around rotating equipment.
  • Avoid putting other things that could be hazardous to workers who sort recycling – like batteries, needles, sharp objects and food residue – into the recycling bin.
  • Do not put Styrofoam cups and containers in the recycling bin.
  • When in doubt, throw it out!

To help residents be ‘cart smart,’ Cabarrus, Concord, and Kannapolis are participating in the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Recycle Right NC education campaign. The three local governments are partnering during the ten-week outreach campaign to post tips on social media, update recycling information online, and connect with the public at local events.

“We are excited to join forces with our neighbors across North Carolina to present a coordinated Recycle Right NC message,” said Concord Solid Waste Director Robin Barham and Kannapolis Public Works Director Wilmer Melton. “While there are subtle differences in what can be accepted in local recycling programs, we all have much more in common and hope that consistent messaging across the state will reduce confusion.”

Cabarrus County, Concord and Kannapolis continuously work together on recycling. All three municipalities accept the same recyclable items and communicate this thru joint educational programs. Last year the CARTology mobile app was released by the three municipalities. Residents can also use any device and web browser to visit, and to access the entire suite of tools on the app including a real-time collection calendar linked to a home address; the recycling acceptable list, registration for waste collection reminders delivered by email, phone call and text message; collection schedule integration with iCal, Google calendar or Microsoft Outlook calendar formats; and printable collection schedules.

For more information about the statewide Recycle Right NC campaign, go to