Q&A about new recycling rules at City of Gastonia buildings
1. What items can now be recycled in City buildings and City offices?
- Corrugated cardboard -- broken down and flattened
- Copy (printer) paper, any color, as long as it is not glossy
2. What about cans, bottles, envelopes and junk mail that we used to recycle at work?
The company that collects the City's recyclables no longer handles:
- aluminum or steel cans
- any types of plastic
- any types of paper or cardboard other than copy paper and corrugated cardboard
3. Is there a difference between what I now can recycle at work and what I now can recycle curbside in Gastonia?
Yes, there is a difference. One company, Republic, has the contract to collect recyclables from residents' curbside bins. A different company, Sonoco, has the contract to collect recyclables from City buildings. The recycling companies are private businesses and can decide what types of items they will accept based on their own processing equipment and what materials they believe they can sell on the recyclables commodities market.
4. Can I take home items from work and put them in my curbside bin?
Yes. But remember that only four types of items are now recyclable curbside in Gastonia. We call them the "fab four."
- Aluminum cans (such as for soda and beer)
- Plastics #1 and #2
- Corrugated cardboard that has been broken down and flattened
5. Where should City employees put recyclable printer paper and cardboard at work?
Employees can request a blue bin to put next to their desk or near a copier. Employees are to empty their blue bin regularly at the assigned location for recyclables in their building. To request a blue bin or to ask where your building's or floor’s recycling area is located, contact:
Carly Caldwell, Keep Gastonia Beautiful
6. What about other items that I used to recycle? I don't see them listed.
You can recycle:
- unbroken glass
- steel cans (meat, vegetables, fruit, soup, etc.)
by taking them to a County-run recycling facility, such as the Farmers Market on Long Avenue in Gastonia. These items must be empty, rinsed clean of any residue, and dry. Do not put glass or steel cans in a curbside recycling cart.
Return clean plastic bags to grocery stories.
Local recycling companies are no longer accepting envelopes, glossy paper, lightweight cardboard, catalogs, magazines, or plastics with numbers higher than #1 and #2. Items that are not specifically listed as recyclable at work, at a recycling center or at curbside should be thrown in the trash.
If in doubt, throw it out.
7. Why all of the sudden and extreme changes in recycling?
- More worldwide supply of recyclable items than worldwide capacity to recycle them or demand for them. For example, it’s usually cheaper to make new plastic than to recycle used plastic.
- China, the world’s largest processor of recyclables, is no longer importing many previously recyclable items, especially many types of paper and plastics.
- Too many items that were put in the recycling stream were contaminated with food or other residue, or shards of broken glass. As much as 25% of what Americans have been putting in recycling bins was never recyclable to begin with. Processing companies were losing money sorting the contaminated stuff from the recyclable stuff.