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Charlotte Area

New recycling bins arrive, but can't be used until July

Big green trash bins for recycling began popping up around Charlotte today, but residents aren't supposed to fill them up for awhile. The best guess so far is that about 46 percent of Charlotte residents recycle. But solid waste spokeswoman Brandi Williams says come July, the city will know exactly who's recycling. "The new recycling carts have a chip in them," says Williams. "So every time the bin is lifted over the truck, the chip matches a reader on the truck and so we know this house participated." The new recycling carts are identical to the regular trash cans Charlotte residents use - 96 gallons, with wheels - except they're bright green. By the time July rolls around, every household in Charlotte will have one. Until then, Williams says people need to store the new cart somewhere and keep using the old red recycling bins. And if you want to stick with the red bin permanently, she says that's fine but you have to call 311 and tell them not to deliver a green cart. Essentially Williams says the city has reversed its approach to recycling. Rather than making residents seek out a bin, "Now we're saying 'You know what, let's give it to everybody,'" says Williams. "Because research shows if you give somebody a recycling bin, they'll use it." Williams says the program is expected to save about $12 million over the next 5 years because the city pays a fee for each ton of trash that goes to the landfill, "and when we go to the recycling center, we don't pay for that." Williams says the city also has new technology that will automatically sort recycleables, instead of having workers sort it curbside as they've done previously. And finally, the new 96 gallon green carts can hold a lot more cans, bottles and cardboard boxes, so the city will only have to collect recycling every other week.