Recycling gains ground on several fronts

Larger recycling bins, the ability to process more types of plastic, and greater resident participation are contributing to Cabarrus County’s rise in the state rankings of communities that recycle.

Just four years ago, Cabarrus was 33rd in common household recyclable recovery. A July report by the N.C. Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service ranks Cabarrus County as eighth in common household recyclable per capita recovery – at 160.55 pounds per person – and 15th in total public recycling per capita recovery (164.73 pounds per person).

The survey ranks counties in two ways: the overall recycling rate and the recycling rate for common household materials such as cans, bottles and paper. The total public recovery rate includes efforts to manage other materials such as concrete, shingles and wood plus special and hazardous wastes like televisions, used motor cooking oils.

“Everyone involved in recycling within the county and municipalities is pleased to see these numbers,” said Kevin Grant, sustainability manager for Cabarrus County. “They confirm that an increased number of Cabarrus County residents are participating in the recycling program.

“The major contributor to our ongoing success is the roll out of 96-gallon carts for residential curbside recycling in Concord, Kannapolis, Harrisburg, Midland and unincorporated areas of Cabarrus,” he said. The carts, already in use for household waste, replaced 18-gallon bins.

“The benefit to homeowners is that the larger carts provide a more convenient method of recycling and the expanded acceptance of greater types of plastics – past types 1 and 2 – helps take the guesswork out of what is a recyclable item,” said Grant.

“Making recycling easier helps develop a recycling culture among our citizens.”

The amount of recyclables collected from residents of unincorporated Cabarrus areas in 2012 was 1,620 tons. In 2014, since the introduction of the carts, the amount of recyclables collected increased to 2,495 tons. Concord has seen a similar percentage increase. Residents collected 5,746 tons in 2014. Kannapolis collected 4,030 tons of recyclables in 2014.

An added benefit for county residents is an agreement with Sonoco Recycling to share a portion of the recycling revenue. Concord and Kannapolis have similar agreements with Sonoco.

In fiscal 2014, Cabarrus County received approximately $30,000 for recyclable material collected from residents in unincorporated areas. The county also received revenue for scrap metal, cardboard and used motor oil collected at its recycling convenience centers. Revenue received helps fund the recycling convenience center operations as well as the county’s household hazardous waste facility.

According to its press release, Cabarrus and its municipalities implemented a 10-year solid-waste management plan in 2012 that included an expanded focus on recycling. That included increased opportunities for waste reduction that encourages a wide-range of materials and public education on how to reduce and recycle waste.

Carole Howell is a freelance writer:

Learn more

For information about recycling programs in Cabarrus County and county municipalities, visit Under the Government tab, choose Going Green. You can also call the recycling hotline: 704-920-3278.

What can go into recycling bin?

Empty aerosol cans (no paint cans)

Plastics: No. 1 to No. 7 (no Styrofoam, plastic food trays or cups, plastic bags, bottle caps or lids or plastic wrap)

Wide-mouth plastic containers and lids

Rigid plastic containers and small, hard plastic toys

Milk and juice cartons and juice boxes

Aluminum cans

Metal food cans and lids

Glass bottles and jars

Cereal and food boxes

Cardboard boxes (3-by-3-feet), flattened (no pizza boxes or food-contaminated cardboard)

Mixed paper, newspaper with inserts and junk mail

Paperback books

Magazines and phone books

Spiral paper cans (with plastic lids detached)

What’s not recyclable

Household garbage

Computers, printers, televisions

Small appliances

CFL light bulbs

Dirty pizza boxes (or other cardboard with food residue)

Plastic bags, plastic film or plastic wrap


Caps (only wide-mouth plastic caps, steel can lids and metal lids from glass jars can be recycled)

Audio and video cassettes, and photographic film

CDs and DVDs

Christmas lights

Tires, rubber, garden hoses

Paint cans

Household glassware

Clothing (or other fabric)