The Durham City Council approved a Solid Waste Management Plan that includes a waste reduction goal of 25% by 2001 and 40% by 2006. An ordinance banning the disposal of targeted recyclables was developed in order to help reach this goal. Target recyclables covered by this ordinance include aluminum and steel cans, glass bottles and jars, newspaper, plastic bottles and corrugated cardboard.
The ban was implemented on a voluntary basis for two years beginning in 1997. Enforcement was delayed several times to allow the city more time to provide education and technical assistance to residents and businesses. The city began enforcement in January 2000.
A permanent sticker was placed on all roll-out trash carts and city-serviced dumpsters to inform residents and businesses of the recycling ordinance. Solid waste collection crews tag trash carts containing banned recyclables.
After three educational tag warnings and a personal consultation, residents may receive fines of $15 for future violations. In a similar process, businesses are given educational letters and site visits. Businesses are also given three chances to start recycling service with a local provider, and are fined $50 per violation if no recycling program is implemented within ninety days.
The city contracts with a private company to operate the transfer station and haul municipal solid waste to the landfill. Commercial haulers that deliver recyclables mixed with solid waste are charged double the regular tipping fee.