EAST SPENCER, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — After realizing how much money they were losing in trash services, leaders in the town of East Spencer are cracking down on residents stealing each other’s trash cans.

Last month, the town switched its waste contractor from Waste Management to Green For Life. In doing so, they’ve also streamlined the process for what happens when trash cans go missing.

Town Manager Michael Douglas told Queen City News that when he joined East Spencer in 2021, the town was losing roughly $45,000 per year in trash services. Last year, he said the town lost $27,000–$28,000.

“The difference between Waste Management and what we’re doing with Green For Life is [that] residents could call Waste Management and say, ‘Hey, I need a trash cart,’ and Waste Management would give them a trash cart. Unbeknownst to us, they’re billing us for those trash carts,” said Douglas.

Douglas said he found more than 100 residents were receiving trash service without paying for it.

With Green For Life, town employees will now have to approve any time someone requests a new trash can.

To take it a step further, Douglas hired a college student to go around the town and log each trash can’s serial number, corresponding it to each resident’s home.

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Anyone caught with a bin that isn’t their’s will be fined $50.

“When you take from someone else’s home, you’re taking town property from one property to another,” said Douglas.

Anyone who thinks they can get around the system by illegally dumping their trash elsewhere should think again. The town is also purchasing and installing new surveillance cameras to catch illegal dumpers. The fine for illegal dumping is typically much higher than paying the town’s $17/month trash fee.