Illegal dumping a problem at Greensboro recycling center

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- When it comes to Greensboro recycling stations, the location at Fire Station 43 in north Greensboro stands out.

"These sites are really popular," said Tori Carle, waste reduction supervisor for the City of Greensboro. "This is why you see five here. That's a lot of recycling dumpsters."

Most of the time, people follow the rules and recycle their paper, plastic and glass. But accidents do happen.

"We still see a lot of plastic bags," Carle said. "Plastic bags are our number one contaminant, especially in these guys because it's an easier way to transport the recycling." ​

The other items Carle sees are not accidents. The City of Greensboro describes it as an on going problem at the Lake Jeanette Road location. People are dumping their furniture, mattresses, televisions and other household items Greensboro doesn't recycle.

"A lot of people don't realize is 'away' is not a magical place," Carle said. "Some one has to transport it and properly handle it at the landfill."​

When unwanted items pile up at the community recycle location, Greensboro sends a truck and two to three workers to clean up the mess. That's additional tax money being used. So the city has come up with a temporary solution to the illegal dumping. A notice will soon go up at the Lake Jeanette site. The letter will let people know that in one to two weeks all five recycle bins will be removed from the fire station. After an unspecified amount of time, the recycle bins will return.

To prevent future abuse, Carle encourages people to use the GSO Collects App or go to the city's website to learn which items can be recycled and where to take items like furniture, mattresses, and paint.

Another alternative, reach out to community organizations like the Barnabas Network.

"Our motto here is 'recycling furniture, restoring peoples lives,'" Executive Director Derrick Sides said. "When we see those things on the street, we think that's an opportunity we missed as a community."

The Barnabas Network is a Guilford County agency that collects gently used household goods like mattresses, furniture and refrigerators and connects them with people recovering from homelessness or immigrants settling in Guilford County.

"It transforms their lives," Sides said. "You can see their faces light up. The kids are so excited to be able to go home and know they will have a bed to sleep in at night."​

To look at items the Barnabas Network is collecting or to schedule a donation pick up time, check out their website.

Go to greensboro-nc.gov to learn more about Greensboro recycling or the GSO Collects App.