Why recycling changed
Q: Why did Gastonia end curbside recycling?
A: The Gastonia City Council voted in September 2020 to end curbside recycling because it is no longer cost-effective to offer the service to residents. More than 60% of the items local residents placed in their recycle carts were contaminated – meaning the items were not recyclable. Companies that process recyclables now refuse to accept trash and contaminated items in the recycling stream.
Q: What is contamination?
A: Contamination is anything that is not recyclable being put into the recycling system. Contaminated items are also those that are not empty, clean, and dry.
Q: Are other cities also ending curbside recycling?
A: Yes, curbside recycling has been halted in recent years in many local communities as well as across North Carolina and the United States. This is because of high contamination rates and fewer companies and nations wanting to buy recyclable items for processing.
Q: Will the City of Gastonia bring back curbside recycling if international markets change?
A: At this time curbside recycling appears to be a broken system. Most items put into recycling carts end up in landfills because of high levels of contamination. Education about contamination has not been successful, so curbside recycling is not likely to be an option in the future.
Examples of contamination in the grey recycle cart in Gastonia:
Contamination at the Recycle Center: