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2012 Mecklenburg County State of the Environment Report
Solid Waste

Recycling is on the rise. In Fiscal Year 2011, Mecklenburg County residents and businesses disposed of a total of 1,089,624 tons of solid waste in landfills.  This equates to a per capita disposal rate of 1.18 tons/person/year, down substantially from the 1.96 tons/person/year disposed in FY1999. In the five years since Fiscal Year 2006, the percentage of the residential waste recycled, including separated yard waste has increased from 24.2% to 31.2% in Fiscal Year 2011. Residential waste comprises approximately 35% of the total waste disposed in landfills, while businesses dispose of 47% of the total waste.
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Solid Waste Environmental Indicators






  • Improve citizen outreach efforts 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 these wastes are 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.

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 4/16/12

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