City of Charlotte seeing major increase in trash pickup, issues suggestions to residents

Trash increases from COVID-19

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Crews across Charlotte have picked up a lot more trash from inside curbside bins.

“More people are at home, and they’re generating more trash,” David Anthony, Field Operations Supervisor for Charlotte Solid Waste Services, says.

His crews are seeing more loose garbage, in addition to bagged trash.

“We’re seeing a lot of clothing, Styrofoam, unbagged garbage,” Anthony says. “We’ve even come across several cans that have had yard waste in them.”

If it does not make it on the route to the landfill, it can be left scattered across neighborhoods.

"For the most part, the driver will be courteous and get out, and grab and pick that up," Anthony says. "But imagine 900 to 1200 homes. Is it feasible to see a driver get out at every house to pick all that up and still finish a route? No."

Nadia Anderson at UNC Charlotte says it is a major concern for the environment. Loose garbage is a lot more likely to make it into the storm water.

"Not only do you have a lot of problems with debris that ends up being in trees and bushes around the banks of creeks, but really also a lot of contaminants getting into the water table," Anderson says.

The city uses one south Charlotte route as an example, saying on that route alone, there has been a near eight-ton increase in trash since 2019.

"On certain days, it's causing us, when one route is able to finish their whole route and collect one load, now they're having to take multiple loads to the landfill," Anthony says.

The city is asking people to consider up-cycling clothes by waiting for donation centers to open if they are not yet, or using them as part of a Do-It-Yourself project. They also urge residents to consider composting, and plan by preparing and storing food to reduce waste.

The city's crews are now also finding extra items in bins.

"Something that would normally be picked up as a bulky item, now being like, toilet, etc. being placed in cans," Anthony says.

He and his crews are hoping that will not continue, when bulk scheduling continues again, June 1.

“It could be a frustration of, ‘I’m normally able to call 311 to get on the schedule, but because of this COVID new thing that’s going on, the bulk was suspended for a while,’” Anthony says. “So if I was in the midst of doing home improvement, I still want to get that collected, so if I can’t get it collected at the curb, I’m going to put it in my garbage bins.”

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