Undercover Recycling Rewarders on the Lookout for Green-handed Acts


In an effort to boost recycling rates, the Caught Green Handed campaign first started in Ohio and is now making its way to North Carolina. Photo: Flickr/Clay Enos

Going green in Charlotte could mean some extra cash in your pocket. The city has instituted a three-month Get Caught Green Handed campaign offering grocery store gift cards, foam fingers and food for those taking the time to recycle.

The campaign will reward 288 uptown Charlotte recyclers that are using the 15 newly installed community recycling bins, which accept aluminum, glass, paper and plastic on Tryon Street.

Winners will be randomly selected by an undercover prize group, and receive a $25 Harris Teeter gift card, a deli sandwich and a 20-ounce Coke from the Harris Teeter uptown location. They also receive a foam hand branded with the words “I Got Caught Green Handed.”

Charlotte offered a similar program last year for those who participated in Mecklenburg County’s curbside recycling program. That year-long program awarded 520 Harris Teeter gift cards randomly if someone was spotted recycling properly by Coca-Cola Recycling representatives.

“Nationally, Charlotte is gaining a reputation as a ‘Green Friendly’ community,” said Michael Smith, President & CEO of Charlotte Center City Partners. “This new Uptown recycling program is the next bold step in our process to build one of the most sustainable counties, cities and centers in the country.”

The City has a goal of increasing annual recycling tonnage by 20 percent, and enforces 15 state landfill bans that require recycling. The city switched to single-stream recycling in bins that use RFID computer chips to track which neighborhoods are actively recycling.

In Cleveland, Ohio, this same technology is being used to fine those who don’t recycle rather than reward those who participate. If a recycling bin is not rolled to the curb for several weeks, residents are subject to trash can searches that could lead to $100 fines for the presence of recyclables.

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Trey Granger

Trey Granger

Trey Granger is a former senior waste stream analyst for Earth911.
Trey Granger