GREENSBORO, N.C. -- In a new assessment, the city of Greensboro's waste reduction department found 21 percent of the city's recyclables are contaminated.
The industry standard, according to the report, is typically only five to 10 percent contamination.
Waste reduction supervisor Alex Arnett wrote in the report, presented to a City Council work group last week, "Residents lack basic knowledge about the recycling program, especially which items are acceptable in the curbside recycling containers."
He added, "Certain segments of the Greensboro population are disengaged from the recycling program" and are participating at a "marginal level or not at all."
The current Greensboro recycling program requires that individuals (who choose to recycle) place their recyclables in their city-distributed brown recycling containers. Recyclables do not need to be sorted by type but must be dry and empty. The city picks up the bins once every other week.
Acceptable materialsinclude all plastics (excluding plastic bags), aluminum cans, steel cans, aerosol cans, newspapers/magazines/catalogs, office and school paper/junk mail, cardboard, chipboard, milk/juice cartons, glass food/beverage containers, rigid plastics and pots/pans.
Non-acceptable materials include baby diapers, car parts, clothes/shoes, food items, Styrofoam/packing peanuts, tires, yard waste, hazardous materials and electronic waste.
Greensboro residents with questions about acceptable materials or about the recycling program can call 336-373-CITY (2489).
Arnett said the city is considering several ideas with which to strengthen and expand the current recycling program. One proposal is for the city to purchase and distribute blue-colored, RFID-enabled recycling containers for residents. These would replace the brown containers, which would be transitioned into yard waste containers. Arnett said by doing this, the city could save at least $500,000 per year through automating yard waste.
Arnett said the city also is considering expanding access to recycling in public places. He said no plans have been finalized, and the city will participate in upcoming discussions as to how to pay for improvements.
He said, "The city is currently receiving significant revenue from recycling, and efforts to expand our recycling services should be viewed as an investment for our community, both in terms of the revenue we receive and the local jobs that recycling creates.
Arnett explained the city receives grants to fund existing programs. He said the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources recently awarded the city with $27,416 for the new public area recycling program. He said the grant will be used to purchase recycling containers for gas stations and convenience stores that receive the city's recycling service. The containers will be placed next to trash cans at trash pump islands, so as to entice drivers to recycle bottles and cans in their cars.
Don't have easy access to a recycling container? Check out Greensboro's 20 recycling drop-off locations.
WATCH WFMY NEWS 2'S GOOD MORNING SHOW FRIDAY, AS MEGHANN MOLLERUS SHOWS PROBLEMS IN THE CITY'S RECYCLING PROGRAM AND DISCUSSES PLANS FOR FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS.