The growing number of green recycling carts at the curb tell the tale: Matthews residents are throwing away a lot less trash.
Since the town implemented larger recycling carts in July and the county instituted single-stream recycling so everything can be thrown in together, the amount of recycled material has grown by the tons.
In August 2010, town residents recycled 122 tons of trash. In August 2011, 199 tons were recycled. September's numbers show a similar pattern, growing from 124 tons recycled in 2010 to 169 tons recycled in 2011.
Town officials think the trend will continue, saving not only the environment but solid waste charges for the town, as well.
"I'm seeing more recycle containers out than ever before," said Matthews Public Works Director Ralph Messera. "We don't have official statistics, but just by my observation, I would say that 75 percent-80 percent of our residents are recycling."
"There is a $27.50 tipping fee every time our hauler takes a ton of trash to the landfill. If we continue at this rate, we will save about $16,500 in landfill charges this fiscal year."
Messera said he believes people are recycling more, not just because they are environmentally conscious but because the new 96-gallon containers make it much easier to store recyclables for bi-weekly pickup.
Matthews, Mint Hill and Pineville all offer recycling to residents in single-family homes. Mint Hill still uses the smaller recycling bins that are emptied on a weekly basis.
Pineville moved to the larger roll-out carts with bi-weekly pick up about a year ago. Signature, the town's solid-waste hauler, says that Pineville's numbers are up as well.
Now that the holidays are here, Messera said, he expects the amount of recyclables to increase even more.
Derrick Harris, senior environmental specialist with Mecklenburg County Solid Waste, says trash numbers go higher each year around this time. He hopes folks will realize that the holidays present an ideal opportunity to fill their recycling bins.
"Please be mindful when you're giving or receiving gifts. A lot of what you are getting is recyclable: wrapping paper, boxes, packaging - almost all of it. Don't throw away anything that can be recycled, and if you're not sure, we would rather you err on the side of putting it in the recycling bin and letting us sort it out," said Harris.