McIntire not saved yet

by Betty on January 18, 2013


Open Letter to City Council and Board of Supervisors and Area Citizens,

I am writing today hopeful about the City and County’s commitment to area waste management through recycling efforts.  Supervisor Boyd stated at the December 22 RSWA Board Meeting that is was “never the intention of the County to scale back or close the existing waste and recycling services offered at Ivy and Mcintire.”  I hope now the County will make good on this statement.

I want to reiterate my advocacy of responsible recycling methods like the City’s curbside program (which uses Republic Services) and the McIntire Recycling Facility.  Of course, I also value the construction and demolition waste recycling (which happens out at VDL at Zion Crossroads) and the mixed-waste approach as a second choice, or “last ditch” effort, at collecting recyclables.

Recycling saves landfill space, preserves valuable resources, and promotes local economies.  Recycling also provides jobs and regionally-based manufacturing inputs and therefore is fiscally responsible.

The larger question for the County right now is to consider is:  what is the best way to handle our waste and recyclables?

With the addition of a dirty MRF facility, things have become messy.

The city yields decent recycling rates by using both single-stream curbside recycling which is processed by a “clean MRF” (Materials Recovery Facility handling recyclables only) and all-in-one mixed waste collection processed by a “dirty MRF” (handling recyclables mixed with non-recyclables).  Residents in the County, however, must rely on private haulers who use this “dirty MRF” and contradict federal EPA definition when they advertise their service as “single-stream.” False perceptions that these haulers achieve high recycling rates abound without proof.  My sources say 24% at the most using this method as compared to over 90% using source-separation.

The dirty MRF model is built on volume because of its low quality product.  The source-separation, clean MRF model is built on higher quality recyclables which can actually make their way back into the consumer market.

The lack of awareness and reporting locally about the dirty MRF approach is distressing.  Many AVID RECYCLERS are no longer recycling, but using the mixed-waste “all-in-one” bin method (mistakenly called “single-stream” by some in the community) thinking that all their recyclables are being recovered.  This is continually disheartening to me.  I recently learned that Albemarle County, including the schools, are also using the dirty MRF facility rather than keeping recyclables separate.  What a wrong message to send our young children.

Which is why I and many other avid recyclers (some for more than 25 years) continue to use McIntire’s Recycling Center.  Today, the Center receives an estimated 500 customers each day and recycles over 5 million pounds of recyclables each year!  Sales of these high quality materials cover 90% of its’ operating costs.  Further, recycling provides jobs and regionally based manufacturing inputs.  This is a responsible and reasonable use of my tax dollars.  The city and county investment required for 2013 is less than $1 per city and county resident!

Therefore, I am urging the Albemarle Board of Supervisors and the Charlottesville City Council, as well as taxpayers, concerned citizens, avid recyclers, and all who care about our quality of life to take RESPONSIBLE action NOW to keep McIntire alive and recyclin’.

I plan on attending Tuesday’s meeting at 2pm at the Moore’s Creek WWTP. Charlottesville cares about preserving our quality of life and being responsible stewards of this beautiful place we call home.  How can we be one of the “top US cities to live in” and still have no responsible recycling choices? It is a basic service that we all deserve.

Just over the mountain, Augusta manages 8 dumps also provides curbside trash hauling and recycling for $17 a month.

I am urging officials to: 1- Keep Ivy Transfer Station and McIntire open to the citizens 2- Require more transparency of actual recycling numbers by private haulers 3- Create an Albemarle County Waste Management Plan that includes: 1) true single-stream recycling to get the highest recycling rates possible, and 2) subsequent use of a dirty MRF to process landfill-bound waste giving recyclables a second chance to be captured.  I believe there is room for both in our fair city!


Teri Kent, concerned Albemarle County resident and Founder of Better World Betty

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