CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The city of Charlotte is trying to make it easy to recycle, but some residents aren't making it easy for the city. The current recycling contamination rate for Mecklenberg County is 17%, while the national average is 12%. 

To tackle this problem, Charlotte's Solid Waste Services is rolling out a new pilot program to get people to pay attention to what they're putting in recycling bins. 

Recycling the right way is now more important than ever as the costs are soaring. 

"Cost us unfortunately about $1.6 million a year to deal with unwanted recyclables," Director of solid waste for Mecklenburg County Jeff Smithberger said.

There are rules when it comes to recycling, and now there is a friendly reminder for some people who may not be following those rules. 

"The green tag is positive reinforcement telling the resident that they're doing a great job, the red tag, it says you have some contaminants present," community engagement coordinator with Solid Waste Services, Beverlee Sanders said. 

Bi-weekly, sanitation workers will be going through people's trash. The city targeted 3,000 homes with high contaminated bins, in other words, people who are recycling things that aren't recyclable. 

"Styrofoam, plastic bags, plastic film, toys," Sanders said. 

The residences were not random, they were compiled through research. Carts in the areas of Hidden Valley, Cotswold, Beatties Ford Road, Wendover, and Plaza Midwood will be inspected. 

While for some, it may seem like an invasion of privacy, Beverlee Sanders with Solid Waste Services says it's not.

"So we are not looking for sensitive items such as medicine bottles or things like that, and anything placed curbside is property of the city," Sanders said.

The program started last Monday and will end on May 1, 2020, with no cart tagging in January. 

MORE ON WCNC: