How To Recycle In Charlottesville Now (Part 2 of 3)

 
 Photo credit: Rivanna Solid Waste Authority

Photo credit: Rivanna Solid Waste Authority

 

(Note: this is part 2 of a three-part blog series on recycling in Charlottesville/Albemarle co-produced by C3 and Better World Betty)

So What Do We Do Now, Betty?!

The good news is that we’ve found national and local providers who offer recycling are operating here in the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County. 

But before we do, let’s have a bit of a reality check when it comes to recycling.  

First, the U.S. is a Goliath among consumers.  Though we make up 5% of the population, we create 40% of the waste. So we have an opportunity to embrace a healthier, lower impact Betty-type lifestyle. 

Second, we need to remember that recycling is just one of the three R’s.  Recycling has never been the sole answer to helping the environment.  Reducing, reusing, and, Betty likes to add, “rethinking” purchasing at the front end, is absolutely necessary if we are going to make a difference and protect our planet! 

Third, China’s “Green Fence” has had a significant impact. In researching for this article, we have heard mixed information about whether #1-7 plastics are actually being recycled here and across the U.S.  Waste Management’s Waste Solutions Consultant, Tom Syre, explained that in the past year, when giant ship loads of plastic arrived on China’s shores and a one-shot inspection revealed a .5% contamination rate, those ships were sent back to the U.S. and forced to landfill or find another option! 

Charlottesville: Hit the Reset Button on Recycling and Relearn

Charlottesville is not alone in increasing its efforts to educate everyone about recycling right. The McIntire Recycling Center has seen a 70% increase in recyclables since the vdL closure, but is also seeing increased contamination due to “wishcycling” (i.e., tossing questionable items in a recycling container in hopes it will somehow get recycled) or aspirational recycling.   

Phil McKalips, the Director of the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority, says “Think of your recyclable as a product” because it is!  That newspaper, magazine, aluminum can, etc. can be given new life by being turned into a new less resource-intense product.   

Did you know that a piece of paper can be recycled 4-6 times, if it’s recycled correctly?  

So we found Waste Management’s great website Recycle Often, Recycle Right that helps you avoid “wishcycling” and the New York Times recently covered: Six Things You’re Recycling Wrong. We also like Greenblue’s 18 things to avoid putting in your recycle bin

Tom Syre, Waste Management Waste Solutions Consultant, offers this tip: “When in doubt, toss it out!” 

What are My Recycling Options Now?

Ok. Back to the good news!

Better World Betty and C3 researched the current recycling options are for County and City residents. Below we list exactly what the options currently are for your home and business.

Note: all haulers are listed alphabetical order.  Better World Betty has put 1 to 3 asterisks to indicate the level of transparency in services and where recyclables are going. 3 being the highest.

County Residents

The County has a different approach to recycling services than the City.   

Rather than providing this service to residents in a curbside program by contracting with a hauler, they put the onus to obtain recycling services on the consumer. So it behooves the consumer to do their homework as to whom they work with in the private sector. That’s where Betty comes in.  

Important note for you County residents: in 2014 the County appointed a Solid Waste Solutions Advisory Committee to look at recycling and a list of recommendations for the County on sustainable materials management was published (see report here). I served on that committee as a County resident and I’m excited to see that the County is implementing some of the recommendations from that report.  McIntire Recycling Center now has longer and more consistent hours!  And check out this great County Green Resource map that lists options.

Also the SWAAC (Solid Waste Alternatives Advisory Committee) just produced two public service announcement videos helping to educate our community on recycling. Check them out: 

Recycling in Albemarle County: Separating is Back!

Recycling in Albemarle County: Use Less, Recover More

 A List of County Recycling Haulers 

1- County Waste** (county-recycling.com. Note: This is the name of the company and NOT affiliated with the County of Albemarle)

 County Waste charges $12 per month for a residential recycling ONLY account. If you bundle it with trash service, it is $5-6 for the additional recycling pickup. Recycling is picked up curbside at residences in Albemarle and Charlottesville every other week. They also offer this service to HOA communities (rules and dues vary on your HOA).  

Commercial recycling service is also offered to businesses in Albemarle and Charlottesville. Call or visit their website for a quote. 

Where does it go?

County Waste takes it to Zion Crossroads (they bought the VDL facility) and then hauls it to their sorting facility for recyclables only or “clean MRF” (pronounced “Merf” and stands for Material Reutilization Facility) in Chester, VA. From there they try to find markets to buy their commodity. 

CONTACT: John Childress, Major Accounts Manager at County Waste and Recycling.  

2- Evergreen Recycling and Document Destruction (evergreen-va.com)***

Evergreen offers recycling services for City and County residents and small businesses.  Call for a quote. 

They also will destroy confidential documents and personal information in an environmentally-friendly way. They charge a minimum of $30 if you bring the documents to them, and a minimum $55 if you need them to pick it up.  

Where does it go?

Mike and his crew take it to McIntire Recycling Center that is managed by the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority.  

CONTACT: Mike Kruse, Founder and President at Evergreen Recycling.  

3- Quality Disposal provides recycling and trash hauling service. They will travel up long driveways for folks who don’t want to haul to the curb. (434) 985-3812.

**4- DIY at McIntire Recycling Center***

Who doesn’t love McIntire Recycling?!  They have a knowledgeable and helpful staff and recycle nearly all products that can be recycled.  For a full list visit their website. Because they are a quasi government agency, they disclose where they take their recyclables (the private sector is not required to do that).   

It’s now my Sunday ritual to stop by and drop my compostable food waste, a program they started in 2014.   

Where does it go?

Office paper goes from McIntire to the Paper Sort Building to Sonoco Recycling.  Sonoco sends most of that paper to a Georgia Pacific plant near Savannah Georgia.  This is the largest tissue paper plant in North America.  They make tissues, toilet paper and paper towels.   

Newspapers and Magazines goes to Sonoco and is recycled into more newsprint. 

Cardboard goes to Sonoco, and some of it ends up in packaging, like new Pringles Containers, (yes the round ones.) 

Plastic numbers 1 - 7 goes to Sonoco but then becomes hard to track since they combine with other localities.  Mike Kruse of Evergreen tells us, “I understand that having all plastic 1 - 7 mixed together was easier when China was taking any materials we sent their way.  As you know China is not willing to take our contaminated and unsorted recycling any more.  Many locations are going back to keeping plastics separated, or not recycling plastic numbers 3 - 7.  This could happen in Charlottesville too, but hasn't yet.” 

Flexible Plastic Film (e.g. wrapping around toilet paper, grocery bags, etc) goes to a Trex facility in Winchester.  Trex makes recycled plastic splinter-free lumber for decks and benches.   

Aluminum Cans go to Gerdau and get turned into new Aluminum Cans.  True recycling, just like the recycling symbol, one thing turned back into itself. 

Mixed metal, mostly steel, or tin cans go to Gerdau as well. 

Glass goes to Strategic Materials in North Carolina.  They have an optical sorting machine that can sort the different colors of glass. 

Compostable Food Waste is hauled away by N.O.P.E. , outside of Richmond, VA and turned into compost. 

CONTACT: Phil McKalips, Director of Solid Waste at Rivanna Solid Waste Authority. 

5- Time Disposal (timedisposalinc.com) **

Time offers residential recycling services to individuals for an additional $6 a month (coupled with your trash account), picked up curbside every other week (bi-weekly). If you live in an HOA community, your recycling fee is likely covered by your HOA dues. Recycling service is offered in Albemarle County and portions of Charlottesville. They haven’t launched their commercial recycling program yet.  

Where does it go?

They take the recycling to County Waste at Zion Crossroads where it remains until picked up and taken to their recyclable-only facility (clean MRF).  

CONTACT: Boyd McCauley, Time Disposal Owner and Operations Supervisor 

Options for Charlottesville City Residents

Curbside Recycling**

The City of Charlottesville offers a free bi-weekly curbside recycling program and they provide residents with a 95-gallon cart for recyclables. As a County resident, I’ve always been envious of the City’s program as they are providing convenience to the consumer AND seem to be doing their best to ensure the recyclable materials are actually being recycled. www.charlottesville.org/recycling  

Where does it go?

As for what happens to the recycled items, the city’s website says:  

“Once collected, the material will become the property of County Waste (which is the name of the company, not associated at all with Albemarle County), and they are hauled to recyclable processing facilities around the state and region. The materials are then baled or otherwise processed and sold as a commodity. Per their contract, County Waste is required to ensure that all recyclable items be recycled and that the processing facilities used do not mix single-stream recyclable items with non-single-stream items when sorting the materials.” 

So we talked to John Childress, Account Manager at County Waste, and he said in the last year County Waste has upgraded their facilities to include a “green eye” optical sorter to eliminate contaminants and increased their workforce to take out contaminants.   

“We are fully committed to this process,” said Childress. “We see the benefits in it. We see the benefits not only to our business but also to the community, to the landfills, to the environment.” 

If you live in an apartment or multi-family situation or neighborhood where the City does not service, you can call County Waste, Evergreen Recycling, or Waste Management for a quote.  

Recycling for City and County Businesses

1-     County Waste**

County Waste offers commercial recycling service is also offered to businesses in Albemarle and Charlottesville. Call or visit their website for a quote.  

Where does it go?

County Waste takes it to Zion Crossroads and then hauls it to their clean MRF in Chester, VA. From there they try to find markets to buy their commodity.  

CONTACT: John Childress, Major Accounts Manager at County Waste and Recycling  

2-     Evergreen Recycling***

Evergreen offers recycling services for City and County residents and small businesses.  Call for a quote.

They also will destroy confidential documents and personal information in an environmentally-friendly way. They charge a minimum of $30 if you bring the documents to them, and a minimum $55 if you need them to pick it up.  

Where does it go?

Mike and his crew take it to McIntire Recycling Center that is managed by the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority. See above for the detailed list.  

3- Republic Services

Unfortunately, Republic did not return our phone calls or emails. 

4- Waste Management **

Waste Management offers commercial recycling service is also offered to businesses in Albemarle and Charlottesville. Call or visit their website for a quote. Betty sat down with Tom Syre, Waste Solutions Consultant, for Waste Management.  “As a company we’ve never mixed recyclables and trash together” which is great to hear.  

Where does it go?

Waste Management uses a local transfer station to ship its recyclables to its Material Recovery Facility (clean MRF) in Manassas, VA. From there, it’s sorted by type, baled, and sold to domestic or overseas processors. Some common household items that contain recycled materials are newspapers, paper towels, and plastic laundry detergent bottles. Recycled materials are also used in new ways such as recovered glass in asphalt to pave roads or recovered plastic in carpeting and park benches. (EPA) 

CONTACT:  Tom Syre, Waste Solutions Consultant, Waste Management. Since the website will connect you with the national office, he suggested an email or call for help: tsyre@wm.com or cell (434)-981-6175.

We hope this guide helps you find a suitable solution for your recyclables in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. (Read Part III in our “How to Recycle in Charlottesville: Local Perspectives on China's Recycling Ban.”)

Teri, aka “Betty”