Recycling effort begins in Kannapolis
By Hugh Fisher
KANNAPOLIS ó Friday marked the first day of curbside recycling for Kannapolis residents.
During the next two weeks, each residence will get its first pickup day for selected recyclables, including plastic bottles, paper and aluminum cans.
The service has been a long time coming, according to Renee Goodnight, the cityís community outreach coordinator.
She and Public Works Director Wilmer Melton planned to ride throughout the city Thursday and Friday to make sure everything went well on the first day of curbside recycling pickup by Waste Management Inc.
She said theyíre still trying to help citizens understand the ins and outs of the new service.
Despite the bright yellow tops and labels on the carts indicating theyíre for recycling only, one resident in Goodnightís neighborhood filled the bin with trash and rolled it out on garbage day.
ěWe contacted Waste Management Ö The driver had told the resident he could collect this today,î Goodnight said, but that should not have happened.
Nothing other than recyclables should be placed in these bins, even if a resident chooses not to participate in the recycling program.
Also, the bottles, cans and papers do not have to be separated or bagged.
Kannapolis is using whatís called a ěsingle streamî recycling service.
Trucks will haul the recyclables to Sonoco Recycling in Charlotte, where they will be processed.
Plastic grocery bags cannot be recycled, Melton said, because they mess up the sorting machinery.
Instead, Melton said, take plastic grocery bags back to a grocery store where collection bins are set up.
After years of citizen requests, fact-finding surveys and discussions about the best way to institute a recycling program, the Kannapolis City Council approved citywide single-stream pickup.
Until this week, Kannapolis was the largest city in the state without a recycling program.
Previously, locals had to haul their own goods to a drop-off site for recycling.
Now, Goodnight said, the city will help customers know which day to roll their recycled goods to the curb.
Pickup will occur every other week on the same day as normal garbage pickup.
Goodnight said residents could go to www.cityofkannapolis.com and click on the ěRecyclingî link to find out which day their household is scheduled for pickup.
Refrigerator magnets with the schedule will also be delivered to residentsí homes within the next week, Goodnight said.
Despite some minor headaches, Goodnight said that the program was off to a good start.
ěWe have residents who have been waiting for a chance to recycle at the curb,î she said.
At the same time, Melton said, ěThere have been some concerns from people.î
Some say they plan never to use the service.
And some opponents have complained about the mandatory recycling fee of $3.20 a month, which will be assessed on residential water and sewer bills.
ěWe have received calls from people who do not think that recycling is important,î Goodnight said. ěWe explained to them that the state is getting more stringent on its landfill bans.î
Starting this month, North Carolina is enforcing stricter regulations on what can and be dumped into the stateís landfills.
Goodnight said inspectors from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources could do spot checks at local landfills, looking for goods that should be recycled.
ěWhen we do not recycle items that the state has said cannot go into the landfill, weíre breaking state law,î Goodnight said.
At the same time, she said, the state awarded Kannapolis a grant of $75,000 to help purchase the first round of curbside recycling bins.
ěWith the phone calls that weíve received, weíve taken time with residents to answer all of their questions, to explain the cityís position,î Goodnight said.
ěItís just the environmentally correct thing to do.î
ěWe certainly encourage everybody to participate in the program,î Melton said.
ěThis is an opportunity where they have a chance to make a huge difference in the environment, the planet as a whole.î
That said, the city canít force people to recycle.
ěHowever, everybody has to participate financially in the program,î he said.
Some have stated they would deduct the $3.20 recycling fee from their water bills.
But Melton said the city puts any amount paid toward mandatory recycling fees and storm water fees first, then toward the residentís water and sewer balance.
ěIn essence, you would be paying (the fee), but what you would not be paying is your water bill,î Melton said.
ěAnd, unfortunately, we are going to have to come out and disconnect your water,î he said.
Despite some complaints, Goodnight said that three-fourths of the calls she has gotten about recycling have been positive.
Melton, too, said heís heard an overwhelming amount of positive comments.
ěI attended two community meetings last week,î Melton said ó one in Centerview, one in Lantern Green.
ěWhat Iíve heard is, we should have had this sooner,î he said.
For more information, residents can go to www.cityofkannapolis.com and click the ěRecyclingî link, or call Kannapolis Public Works at 704-920-4200.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editorís desk at 704-797-4244.