Recycling carts increase use, decrease cost

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.


Officials have seen Wilson’s recycling load more than double since switching residents to a higher capacity collection cart, which has now rolled out to the entire city.

Environmental Services Manager Scott Hedgepeth said the switch from 18-gallon bins to 96-gallon carts started with a pilot program of about 3,000 homes in late 2014 and was so well received, officials opted to do a three-year implementation plan across the city. In 2017, Mayor Bruce Rose and the City Council pushed for an additional $300,000 to speed up the implementation after receiving positive feedback.

“The fact that we changed a city service that is more efficient and we have citizens begging to get it is a win-win,” City Manager Grant Goings told the council.

Unlike the weekly collection of the bins, the carts are collected every other week and require fewer city personnel.

“The use of the blue rollout carts allows the city the option of using an automated truck versus the standard rear loader,” Hedgepeth said. “The rear loader requires a three-person crew while the automated requires a single driver. Therefore, the carts offer the city a savings in collection cost per ton as well as the added amount of recycling from each residence using the much larger cart, thus contributing to the overall disposal savings.”

The city’s cost to dispose of a ton of recycling versus a ton of garbage is about $11.33 less and the carts have dramatically increased Wilsonian participation in recycling. Officials said the bins were standard across the city, Wilson recycled between 60 and 75 tons of material a month. The first phase of the carts increased recycling to 90 or 100 tons a month, then 135 to 140 tons with the second phase and now the city averages about 180 tons a month.

“If we recycle 180 tons a month, we are saving more than $2,000 a month in landfill fees,” said Wilson communications coordinator Matt Shaw.

About 17,000 recycling carts have been distributed throughout the city, including to some apartment complexes. Shaw said whether complexes still are using the bins, adding carts or served by Waste Management with another recycling system, residents in most complexes across the city have ready access to recycling now.

“The blue recycling carts should offer the residents an increased space for holding their recycling and offer a more convenient means to both collect and ultimately dispose of their recycling, thereby encouraging each resident to contribute or contribute more to our recycling program,” Hedgepeth said.

Environmental services staff members are available to give presentations on recycling to civic groups, schools and other organizations. Call 252-399-2485 with questions or concerns.

What to recycle

City crews collect recycling every other week for steel and aluminum cans, glass bottles and jars, Nos. 1-7 plastic containers such as milk, soft drink and detergent bottles, newspapers and inserts, magazines, white paper and phone books. Cardboard, with the exception of pizza boxes, also can be placed in the carts for collection, but should be broken down to fit in the cart.

For more information on recycling or garbage collection, visit www.wilsonnc.org/public-works/environmental-services/.