Are you recycling the wrong way? Odd items found in Charleston County’s recycling facility

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Thousands of homes take advantage of Charleston County’s curbside recycling program, but many are likely recycling incorrectly. It could lead to slowdowns and pose a risk to worker safety.

Charleston County’s Environmental Management Department says they receive nearly 3,500 tons of recycling each month at the county’s Materials Recovery Facility in North Charleston.

Each item must be processed and sorted according to type before it can be baled and sold to both domestic and international remanufacturers to be made into new products.

But non-accepted items that come into the North Charleston facility – like household garbage, bags, electronics, Styrofoam packaging, and construction debris – can decrease the value of those recyclables and “jam up the processing equipment at the recycling center,” according to county officials. Often causing shutdowns and impacting worker safety.

Earlier this week, Charleston County shared a photo of a large doll from the ‘Chucky’ horror movie franchise after it was discovered at the facility. “Luckily, the doll was spotted on the tipping floor before it made it to the processing equipment,” officials said.

These non-accepted items, which environmental management staff refers to as contamination, that do make it to the processing equipment can be detrimental.

They say items like plastic bags and bagged recyclables are among the worst. These bags wrap around rotors on the equipment and cause shutdowns in the system.

“Please leave plastic bags out of recycling carts,” officials said. “Do not bag items, keep them loose in the cart.”

Approximately 18% of incoming recycling is non-accepted material that must be sent to the landfill. Odd items that have been found at the facility include a sword, bowling ball, mounted deer head, kitchen sink, and even a gas pump.

Staff members ask citizens to recycle right – they say, “when in doubt, leave it out.” The only items permitted for recycling include:

  • Plastic bottles & containers
  • Aluminum & settle cans
  • Cartons
  • Paper
  • Paperboard and flattened cardboard

You can learn about Charleston County’s recycling program and what you can and cannot recycle by clicking here.

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