Chesterfield County Leaders considering changes to recycling program

CHESTERFIELD, Va - Globally, it is getting more expensive to process good thrown into recycling bins, analysts said, and the increase in costs is causing Chesterfield County leaders to reconsider their contribution to the regional curbside recycling program operated by Central Virginia Waste Management Authority.

Chesterfield leaders said their share of the bill has more than tripled in recent years, and county manager Dr. Joseph Casey wrote to CVWMA leaders the board of supervisors will consider three options while finalizing the county’s proposed FY 2020 budget.

  1. Transitioning to direct bill of residents program with CVWMA that maintains the county’s current subsidy level of $231,000 annually
  2. Transitioning to a direct bill of residents program with CVWMA or another recycling company and reinvesting the $231,000 towards upgrades in the county’s recycling facilities and marketing
  3. Increasing the annual fee for property owners from the current level of $25 to $40 per year

A spokesperson for the county said Chesterfield does not want to get rid of curbside recycling, instead leaders want to pursue a more cost effective way of operating.

CVWMA Executive Director Kim Hynes said they are currently negotiating with their vendor (TFC) and Chesterfield on ways to continue the county's participation in the regional program.

"We’re trying to work with them and our vendor to make them whole and at the same time keep the program together," Hynes said.

If Chesterfield were to back away from the curbside program, Hynes said residents there would have to find their own recycling hauler, similarly to how current trash pick up services work there.  Hynes said that could lead to more expensive services in Chesterfield and higher fees in the other localities participating in the curbside program.

"Under our contract, since they are the largest locality participates in that contract, it could result in some additional costs for the other localities to continue," Hynes said.

The Chesterfield Board of Supervisors is scheduled to adopt the proposed FY 2020 budget Wednesday night, which will include provisions to end Chesterfield's current service agreement with CVWMA .  However, both Hynes and county officials reiterated that negotiations will continue, potentially past July 1st, and that any decision by the board will likely be amended at a later date.

A shift in recycling policy in China, the world's largest buyer of recyclable items, lead to plummeting revenues for processing companies across the world, according to a recent CBS News report.

"A crash in the global market for recyclables is forcing communities to make hard choices about whether they can afford to keep recycling or should simply send all those bottles, cans and plastic containers to the landfill," the report reads.

For 32 years, Larry Harmon has called the Reams Run neighborhood home, and for as long as he can remember, his family has put out their recycling for pick up.  Harmon said if the county shifts its curbside recycling operations, it could impact who recycles and who chooses not to.

"I think the younger generation probably would better than us retired people.  I’ll say it like that," Harmon said.  "I think you make thing convenient you make people participate.  If it’s not convenient they’ll probably just put it in the trash and send it on."

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