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Frequently Asked Questions: Curbside Recycling in Mecklenburg County, NC

 

Want the fast facts on curbside recycling?

Where do curbside recyclables go?  What is a MRF?

Are caps and lids recyclable?

What does the recycle symbol mean?

What does the number in the recycle symbol mean?

What plastics are accepted for curbside recycling?

Can shredded paper be recycled curbside?

Are smaller pieces of paper recyclable curbside?​

Can I recycle paper cups, napkins and paper tissue?

Can I recycle envelopes, junk mail, wrapping paper, or paperback books?

Can I recycle laminated paper, hardback books, or binders?

Can I recycle a used greasy pizza box?

How clean does a plastic bottle need to be before placing in my cart?

Can plastic film and grocery bags be recycled curbside?​

Do recyclables need to be bagged in curbside recycling carts?

Can I recycle my garden hose, old cords and rope?

Can I recycle scrap metal or car parts in my curbside cart?

Can I recycle old clothes and fabric in my curbside cart?

Are tours of Mecklenburg County's Material Recovery Facility (MRF) available

Where is the Mecklenburg County MRF located?

Need a speaker or have additional questions on recycling?​



  1. Want the fast facts on curbside recycling?
    • Bottles, jars, and containers must be empty and should be rinsed
    • Labels, caps and lids can stay on container
    • Any paper, or paper board, that tears and is bigger than your hand is OK
    • Food and/or pizza boxes should be completely empty
    • Plastic bags should be recycled at the grocery store, NOT in the curbside cart
    • Scrap metal should be recycled at the Full Service Recycling Centers, NOT in the curbside cart
    • Styrofoam should be reused or placed with trash, NOT in the curbside cart
    • Accepted recyclables should be placed loose in curbside cart
    • Curbside carts should be placed with handles facing away from street
    • Shredded paper should be repurposed or recycled in separate systems, NOT in the curbside cart
    • View a full list of materials accepted for curbside recycling in Mecklenburg County here.
  2. Where do curbside recyclables go?  What is a MRF?
    • Curbside recycling programs in the City of Charlotte and the Towns of Davidson, Cornelius, Matthews, Huntersville, Pineville and Mint Hill all take their recyclables to the Metrolina Recycling Center which is a state of the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).  The MRF is owned by Mecklenburg County and operated by ReCommunity, a privately held company that specializes in MRF operations.  Automated machinery sorts the materials based on size, shape and weight in a process known as single stream recycling.  The equipment is designed to handle typical household recyclables.  Recycling right is very important to MRF operations.  Recycling the right materials in curbside container is very important because unaccepted materials can be safety hazards, damage machinery, stop plant processing and eventually go the landfill as costly residue.  The MRF operates two shifts per day processing between 400 to 500 tons of material.  The sorted material is compacted into bales and shipped to recycling processors that turn the material into new products.
  3. Are caps and lids recyclable?
    • Mecklenburg County now accepts bottle caps and lids on containers.  The containers must be empty and should be rinsed with the cap or lid on the container.  More information about the changes in the plastic recycling industry related to bottles caps can be found linked here.
  4. What does the recycle symbol mean?
    • The recycle symbol does NOT mean the material is accepted for recycling in the curbside cart.  The recycling symbol mean recyclable materials were used to make the material and likely recyclable in the correct program.  There are many different programs such as curbside programs, retailer take back programs, drop-off centers and even mail in programs.  Curbside programs are different locally due to technology in sorting and recovery equipment.  Many retailers also run take back programs for materials that are not recyclable in curbside programs such as plastic bags,  batteries, and light bulbs.  The basics of what is acceptable in curbside​​ programs are paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, plastic bottles and jugs (view a complete list of curbside recyclables here).
  5. What does the number in the recycle symbol mean?
    • This is type or plastic resin the item is made from.
  6. What plastics are accepted for curbside recycling?
  7. Can shredded paper be recycled curbside?
    • No, shredded paper doesn't behave like larger pieces of paper going through the MRF.  The small pieces of shredded paper go everywhere clogging machinery and contaminating other materials.  Shredded paper can be recycled in source separated systems; such as paper only bins at your local grocery, companies that specialize in shredding documents, or paper shredding events.  Mecklenburg County Solid Waste hosts a large shredding event in November for America Recycles Day, more details linked here.
  8. Are smaller pieces of paper recyclable curbside?
    • Yes, the paper should be the size of the palm of an average hand, or any size larger. 
  9. Can I recycle paper cups, napkins and paper tissue?
    • No, paper plates, cups, napkins, tissue are not recyclable.  These paper products are typically soiled with food or liquids. They are typically made of smaller fibers that are near the end of their useful lifecycle.  The paper cup often have wax or plastic liner which makes it not recyclable.
  10. Can I recycle envelopes, junk mail, wrapping paper, or paperback books?
    • Yes, envelopes with a plastic window, junk mail, wrapping paper and paper​back books are recyclable and accepted in curbside recycling.
  11.  Can I recycle laminated paper, hardback books, or binders?
    • No, these items are made of multiple materials that are not easily separated therefore they are not recyclable.  Hardback books should be donated to a local charity.  Check with your local schools or charities to see if they accept binders.
  12. Can I recycle a used greasy pizza box?
    • Used greasy pizza boxes are accepted for recycling.  The pizza box and all boxes containing food should be empty.
  13. How clean does a plastic bottle need to be before placing in my cart?
    • Bottles must be empty and should be rinsed.  Rinsing the container also helps keep recycling containers in the home clean.
  14. Can plastic film and grocery bags be recycled curbside?
    • No, plastic film and plastic grocery bags do NOT go in curbside recycling carts.  Clean plastic film and grocery bags can be recycled through many grocery store and retailer take back programs.  Plastic film, grocery bags, garden hoses and other stringy materials cause serious problems to the machinery at the MRF.  These material types wrap around rotating shafts and clog screens.  The plant must periodically shut down to remove these contaminants by hand.  Removing the material from clogged screens and shafts is one of the most unsafe tasks for the employees and the number one reason recycling right is important.
  15. Do recyclables need to be bagged in curbside recycling carts?
    • No, accepted recyclable program material should be placed loose in recycling cart.  Tip: repurpose a paper bag for recycling collection and throw the entire paper bag in the recycling bin.  Carts handles should face away from street to assist collection crews and reduce the chance for wind blown litter.
  16. Can I recycle my garden hose, old cords and rope?
    • No, garden hoses, rope or wire type materials are not accepted in curbside recycling.  These stringy type materials cause serious problems to the machinery at the MRF.  These material types wrap around rotating shafts and clog screens.  The plant must periodically shut down to remove these contaminants by hand.  Removing the material from clogged screens and shafts i is one of the most unsafe tasks for the employees and the number one reason recycling right is important.
  17. Can I recycle scrap metal or car parts in my curbside cart?
    • No, scrap metal and car parts cannot be recycled in curbside recycling carts.  These materials can be recycled through separate programs at any of the four Full Service Recycling Drop-Off Centers.
  18. Can I recycle old clothes and fabric in my curbside cart?
    • No, old clothes, fabric and textile materials should be donated to charity.  Many charities and thrift stores are able to recycle textiles through a separate system.
  19. Are tours of Mecklenburg County's Material Recovery Facility (MRF) available?
    • Yes, tours are strongly encouraged for all age groups.  Many school and civic groups tour the facility every year.  To schedule a tour, call Paula Hoffmann at 704-598-8595.
  20. Where is the MRF located?
    • From I-85 take exit 40 onto Graham St.  Go south towards Charlotte Uptown for about 1/4 mile and turn left onto Amble Drive.  Follow Amble Drive until it dead ends. Take the last driveway on the right. The facility address is 1007 Amble Drive, Charlotte, NC 28206.
  21. Need a speaker or have additional questions on recycling?


 

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2145 Suttle Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28208

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