It’s time to have some fun in the sun! But let’s not be wasteful. While you’re enjoying the heat and all the activities that summer brings, remember to recycle right.  

Besides the six items you can recycle curbside, here are some seasonal items you can bring to any Mecklenburg County full-service recycling center all year long. 

1. Foam Coolers

Black bin that collects white rigid foam.

Staying cool in the summer is key! Yes, one-time coolers serve their purpose, but once you’re done with them you can avoid the trash can. White rigid foam recycling is available through Solid Waste’s enhanced recycling program. The fancy name for it is polystyrene foam. You can usually find it in appliance and TV packaging. Your foam coolers fall into this category! 

You can also bring us your foam cups and food containers. Just make sure all items are clean, dry, and free of stickers and plastic. Put them in the Foam-a-Saurus Rex bin. Our staff then sorts and preps each piece of foam for our densifier machine. Recycled foam is then turned into things like picture frames, decorative moldings and clothes hangers. 

2. Swimwear

When it’s time to pull out the swimsuits for summer, there may be a few you want to get rid of. Instead of throwing them away, give your swimwear a second splash! Place your items in the big blue bins at any full-service recycling center.  

Donated items are either repurposed or broken down for new fabrics. Textile recycling also includes items like towels, shoes, hats, and accessories. Basically, anything you can wear!

3. Wet Ashes and Grease

I’m all for a summer cookout. Who doesn’t love a slightly burnt hotdog with an ice-cold drink in hand? But let’s talk about the aftermath. We see a lot of fires at our facilities and in trucks due to hot coals. You should never put ashes in your trash or recycling.  

Here’s what to do for safe disposal: 

  • Thoroughly soak ashes in water; 
  • Let coals or ashes sit for at least 48 hours (if not soaked); or  
  • Bring to a full-service recycling center and let staff know you have ashes. We have special metal barrels to put them in. 

You should also never pour grease down your sink. It can get in the water system, as well as clog up your drain. You can collect large amounts of grease and oils in containers and recycle them at our full-service centers. Just look for the big yellow oil drums!

4. Lawn Equipment

It may be time to update your lawn equipment. Quick eco tip: switching to electric can help reduce air pollution. Bring old lawnmowers to any full-service center. First, drain out the oil and gas – this goes into the household hazardous waste area. The lawnmower itself should be placed in our special bulky metal area.  

Since we’re in the gardening mood, yard waste disposal is offered at full-service centers. Then we take your yard waste and turn it into mulch and compost! Several items are available for purchase, or you can pick up brush mulch in bulk at no cost.

5. Pool Chemicals

Pool chemicals on the edge of a pool.

Pool upkeep requires a lot of chemicals. Pool chemicals are considered household hazardous waste. That means they can’t be thrown away with your regular trash. Disposal is free for residents at any full-service recycling center. Let our on-site staff know you have hazardous waste, and we’ll do the rest.  

What About Businesses?

Mecklenburg County Solid Waste and Recycling does not accept any business hazardous material per Federal and State laws. The County has quarterly events to help small businesses dispose of their waste at a reduced fee. Otherwise, businesses should contact the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.