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Greensboro focuses on recycling; hopes to sift out the trash

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The City of Greensboro wants more of your recycling. A push to educate the public on what should be recycled instead of thrown out has just launched.

“We actually call that in the recycling industry our contamination rate,” said Alex Arnett, a waste reduction supervisor for the city. “Greensboro's is pretty significantly high -- it's around 20 percent while some of our peer communities have contamination rates about 8 to 10 percent. There's a lot of garbage coming into Greensboro's recycling and we're trying very hard to get that number down.”

The marketing plan will include billboards, TV spots and mailers aimed at people who are quick to toss plastics, paper, glass bottles and other materials.

“We found there is a lot of confusion with our residents about exactly what they should be recycling in their program so we're really trying to step up our education effort and make it as easy for people as possible to know what they should be recycling,” said Arnett.

At the hazardous waste recycling drop off location at 2750 Patterson St. employees often answer questions about what is accepted even from people who are bringing items to drop off.

“North Carolina two years ago banned electronics from landfills so last year we diverted one million pounds of electronics from the landfill to recycle,” said Eddie Raynard, who supervises the department for the city.

The center does get a lot of televisions and computers but also accepts other electronics and hazardous materials like gasoline, antifreeze, paint thinner and similar items without a disposal fee.

“You don't want these materials just lying around your house because of your pets and your children so recycle all these materials even if it’s just a little bit it doesn't matter a little bit or a lot just bring us your stuff and we will recycle it for you,” said Raynard.

The hazardous waste recycling drop off is open four days a week. The hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The City of Greensboro collected about 2 million pounds of recycling last year. They have not set a goal for increasing that amount but say every little bit kept out of the trash pays off.

“It helps support jobs and our local economy,” said Arnett. “Recycling helps support 17,000 private sector jobs in North Carolina. The city also gets paid $30 for our recycling per ton while we have to pay $44 per ton for our garbage.”