Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my business is covered by the ordinance?
This ordinance applies to businesses that contract for 16 cubic yards or greater of municipal solid waste collection service per week. All businesses which meet this criteria shall keep corrugated cardboard and office paper separate from all other municipal solid waste for the purpose of participation in a recycling program and shall provide for the collection of these materials.
To determine if your business contracts for this level of service, first look at your invoice for garbage collection service. These invoices often specify the container size and frequency of collection. If you cannot find this information on your invoice, contact your waste hauler and ask them for the size of container you are using and the frequency of collection. An 8 cubic yard container picked-up twice a week qualifies your business for participation in the mandatory program.
Q. Are there any exemptions to the ordinance?
A. If you discover that you do contract for 16 cubic yards of municipal solid waste collection service per week, you still may be exempted from the requirements of this ordinance. The following exemptions may apply to your business.
Automatic Minimum Weight Exemption:
- Businesses which generate less than 500 pounds of corrugated cardboard per month will be exempt from separating corrugated cardboard from their solid waste.
- Businesses which generate less than 500 pounds of office paper per month will be exempt from separating office paper from their solid waste.
Note: If a business claims an automatic minimum weight exemption, the County may request that the business provide adequate documentation to allow the County to verify such claim. This documentation must be submitted within 30 days of request.
Automatic Temporary Service Location Exemption:
- Source separation is not required if doing business from a temporary location (e.g., street vendor, construction site, outdoor festival)
Exemptions Upon Application:
- Businesses may apply for an exemption if physical constraints preclude compliance with the ordinance. These will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
- Businesses may be exempted if compliance with the ordinance would require them to violate other codes or regulations such as the Zoning Ordinance.
We hope that you will recycle as much as you can, regardless of whether or not you are exempt from the ordinance.
Q. What if my business is in Mint Hill. Am I still covered by this ordinance?
A. Yes, this is a Mecklenburg County Ordinance that includes the City of Charlotte, Mint Hill, Huntersville, Davidson, Cornelius and Pineville.
Q. What items do I have to keep out of my garbage?
A. Office Paper and Corrugated Cardboard.
Q. Does the County come and haul away my paper and cardboard?
A. No. You have two options. You can contract with a private hauler or recycler (see Companies that recycle corrugated cardboard and paper
.) Or you can deliver materials to any of the County's drop-off collection centers (see the map of locations
). For a limited time, some businesses may have a third option. Mecklenburg County is asking businesses to sponsor County operated paper-recycling containers at their business location (go here to find out more
Q. Why is it necessary to separate paper and cardboard, why can't it just go into the landfill?
A. It took 15 years and millions of dollars to get a permit for Mecklenburg County's Foxhole Landfill on Highway 521 near the Lancaster County Line. Most experts feel that this will be the last landfill ever permitted in Mecklenburg County. The more material we can keep out of the Foxhole, the longer we can extend the life of our landfill. In addition, recycling paper saves precious natural resources. Every ton of paper recycled:
- Keeps seventeen trees growing and providing oxygen to the earth.
- Conserves enough electricity to power two apartments for one year.
- Conserves enough drinking water for thirty people for one year.
Last year, your County government alone recycled 37,708 tons (this does not include the large amount also recycled by the private sector).
Q. Isn't this going to increase my cost of doing business?
A. There are nearly 100 Mecklenburg County companies that have started recycling programs under the County Voluntary Business Recognition Program. Some of those businesses have found markets for their recyclables and are making money. Other businesses have been able to reduce their trash collection cost, making their recycling program cost-neutral. Recycling may also provide your business a marketing advantage by appealing to customers who prefer to do business with environmentally responsible companies.
Q. I don't have a clue how to get this started. What do I do?
A. Mecklenburg County Solid Waste Management has plenty of tools to help you including a website full of helpful information, free videos for you and your staff to watch, free seminars for your key personnel to attend and brochures that deal directly with the most common types of businesses.
Q. What happens if I don't comply?
A. The County will provide the business with three notices before penalties will be assessed. Each notice will be accompanied by an offer for technical assistance. A civil penalty will be assessed if a business fails to comply with the ordinance within thirty days of receiving a third notice of violation. The total civil penalty assessed within a 12-month period will not exceed $2,500.