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2014 Mecklenburg County State of the Environment Report - Solid Waste

Solid Waste

Recycling rates have stabilized. In 2013, Mecklenburg County residents and businesses disposed of a total of 942,569 tons of solid waste in landfills. This equates to a per capita disposal rate of 0.98 tons per person per year, and for the first time waste disposal is less than one ton per person annually. Since 2006, the percentage of the residential waste recycled, including separated yard waste, has increased from 23% to 31.8% in 2013. As for the total waste stream in 2013, commercial waste remains the largest portion at 44% of the total waste stream disposed, which is slightly down from 47% reported in the 2012 State of the Environment report. Residential waste comprises approximately 39% of the 2013 total waste stream and construction and demolition is the remaining 17% of the waste stream being landfilled.
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Solid Waste Environmental Indicators






  • Improve citizen outreach efforts, and tracking of educational outreach effectiveness, to realize the full potential of residential recycling. Even with a mature residential recycling program, nearly half of the County's single family residents and more of the multi-family residents do not fully participate in the available recycling programs. The collection and processing infrastructure to handle additional materials already exists, it just needs to be used.
  • Expand the base of commercial recycling. Comprising nearly half of the waste disposed, commercial or business waste needs to be central to any waste reduction efforts. Initiatives and policies should be instituted that expand the number of businesses recycling their waste and the types of materials recycled. The existing Source Separation Ordinance requires only large businesses to recycle two materials, office paper and cardboard.
  • Support the growth of waste reduction/recycling activities in our schools. Behavioral patterns are set early in life and schools provide a great opportunity to increase awareness of recycling issues. We need to build on the existing relationship between County Solid Waste and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) to realize the full potential of our recycling programs. The County/CMS partnership also provides a great proving ground for environmental leadership practices and institutional waste recycling programs.
  • Foster an infrastructure for food waste recycling. Food waste and other organics represent a significant portion of both the single family residential and the commercial/institutional waste streams. Today food waste is largely unrecovered although potential is high to reuse these materials once collected. Adequate collection and processing infrastructure for food waste needs to be available to begin to realize the recycling potential. Progress is being made in the residential sector through home composting. Educational campaigns encouraging food waste composting fostering public acceptance of food waste diversion should be increased.

More information

The trends shown in the State of the Environment Report are not all based on tests of statistical significance. Data analysis, anecdotal evidence, and best professional judgment have been compiled to represent these trends. The State of the Environment Report takes a snapshot of important environmental indicators in an effort to educate the public while highlighting challenges, successes and the general direction of change for each indicator. For additional information on these indicators and the determination of trends, please follow the links and feel free to contact the appropriate resources.

Last updated 2/20/14