Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Wipe Out Waste: Ask A Meck County Expert - Why Can’t I Put Shredded Paper in my Home Recycling Cart?

 Mecklenburg County Solid Waste experts receive hundreds of residential waste disposal and recycling questions weekly. To educate and empower Natural Awakenings readers, their experts provide updates and answer some of the most frequently asked questions in a bi-monthly column. 

Why Can’t I Put Shredded Paper in my Home Recycling Cart?

This is one of the many questions our program answers daily, but first some background before the answer. To better understand why shredded paper can’t go in curbside carts we have to talk about how recyclables get sorted and separated. 

The Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) uses gravity to sort materials, as well as magnets, air jets and human sorters. Shredded paper consists of thousands of small strands of paper that are all too small to capture at the MRF.  The small strands fall through the sorting equipment and wind up settling in with the glass that gets separated.  And yes, that contaminates the glass.

Mecklenburg County offers separate drop-off locations for shredded paper at all the Full-Service Drop Off Centers.  The shredded paper collected at these centers does not go to the MRF, but rather gets directly bailed and then repurposed to make new paper products.  The county offers this as Enhanced Recycling, with special bins for Shredded Paper, Books, White Rigid Foam and Textiles. Visit our special website for pictures and more descriptions.

If you don’t want to shred your own paper, you can participate in our monthly paper shred events held on the third Saturday of each month at our Compost Central location.

Please be sure to sign up in advance and choose your drop-off time.  Visit our main web site at for more information. And always remember to Recycle Right!


If you have program questions about recycling, waste diversion or anything else related to waste, please visit To submit a waste disposal and recycling question, email [email protected]. Jeff Smithberger, Director of Solid Waste, answers the top 7 residential recycling questions at

Mecklenburg Solid Waste - 2145 Suttle Ave Charlotte NC

Mecklenburg Solid Waste - 2145 Suttle Ave, Charlotte, NC

Waste Reduction & Recycling: Free Online Educational Presentations for Residents Wishful recycling (placing items in recycling that is actua... Read More » 


Join Our Email List


* indicates required
What Best Describes You?