The City of Winston-Salem has taken over residential recycling collections from Waste Management of Carolinas Inc., which had done the job for over 30 years.

Helen Peplowski, director of sustainability for the City of Winston-Salem, says the change was prompted in part by customer service issues. She says some residents were going days on end without getting their recycling picked up. According to Peplowski, citizens who were medically exempt from bringing their bins to the curb also struggled to get service.

So the city purchased 12 new trucks and hired 14 people in order to take over the job from Waste Management of Carolinas. The contractor will still be in charge of processing recyclables once they’ve been collected. 

In a statement, Waste Management didn’t address the city’s customer service concerns but said they appreciate their continuing partnership. 

Peplowski says this won’t change much about how city residents go about recycling though. Collection days will remain the same as will the guidelines for what items will be accepted. But residents may see an increase in cart tagging – that’s when city workers attach a tag explaining they found something they can’t recycle in the cart, also known as a contaminant. 

“We are trying to reduce that contamination rate across the city. That is something that we have to pay additional fees for," says Peplowski. "And so you know, we're really just trying to in a way reduce the burden on taxpayers.”

Peplowski says plastic bags are the most common contaminants. Other items that should stay out of the recycling bin include pizza boxes and clothing. 

Winston-Salem’s collections began on Monday. Greensboro and High Point both already manage their own recycling collection programs.  

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