As Charlotte residents finish hauling holiday packaging to the curb, the city is changing recycling requirements for cardboard boxes.
The city now requires that cardboard pieces be torn into smaller pieces – about 18 by 18 inches – so they fit loosely in the recycling cart. Previously, pieces as large as 3 by 3 feet were permitted.
In Charlotte, recycling collection is automated, meaning items aren’t regularly collected from outside the cart. The holidays are an exception, when many residents have more cardboard to recycle.
The new requirements were put in place after the city received complaints from residents about missed recycling collection, said Solid Waste Services spokeswoman Brandi Williams. City officials realized larger cardboard pieces were getting stuck in the cart, which kept items underneath the cardboard from being emptied.
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The problem followed the city’s move in 2010 from a 16-gallon recycling bin to a larger but narrower 96-gallon cart.
“While 3-foot-by-3-foot pieces of cardboard would fit into the bin, they didn’t fit into the cart as well,” she said.
Jo Ellen Bray, treasurer for the Selwyn Neighborhood Association, criticized the new requirement.
When Bray, 74, recycles cardboard boxes, she flattens, tears, folds and places them on one side of the cart, so they don’t block other items.
“I think 18 inches is way too small – why can’t you fold it and shove it down the side?” Bray said. “But some people have no common sense.”
Williams said they changed the rules to improve recycling collection. The 18-by-18 requirement is a loose guideline and cardboard pieces don’t have to be cut – but larger pieces need to be torn to fit easily into the cart to avoid blocking other items. Williams said they will accept 3-by-3 pieces through Jan. 31.
One of the ways the city announced the change was through a Dec. 22 post on Twitter – which garnered a few objections to the rule.
One Twitter user said, “This is absurdly ridiculous! Who has time for this?”
Another user said the new requirements would deter people from recycling. “This is an excellent way to get people to start throwing cardboard into the trash. No way can I do this. What are you thinking?!”
Jane Little: @janelittle26; 704-358-5101
Find more details about the requirement at http://charlottenc.gov/SWS/ResidentServices/Pages/Recycling-Collection.aspx.