New Recycling in Historic Triangle

The Rehrig Pacific Company's Eric Richardson logs the distribution of new recycling bins in the Seasons Trace neighborhood on Thursday. The Historic Triangle is gearing up for new recycling plan. No Mags, No Sales, No Internet, No TV (Stephen Reiss / Daily Press / June 18, 2014)

With nearly all 33,000 new recycling carts distributed, Virginia Peninsulas Public Service Authority is still fielding calls complimentary and critical about the new plan.

About 350 people have called to say their carts are too large or that they don't recycle, said Operations Director David Magnant. He expects that 1 percent of the disgruntled to double.

Of those who are rejecting the new carts, most are people in apartments or condominiums. "It's difficult to ask someone to roll a cart through their house from the patio out back," he said. "That's a challenge."

The new carts are part of a contract negotiated between County Waste and the localities of Poquoson, Williamsburg, York and James City that provide for expanded plastics recycling at about half the cost of the previous contract. James City County was paying $958,067 for its share, but was able to cut $450,000 with the new contract. Williamsburg and the other localities saw similar savings.

The 65-gallon rolling carts will allow County Waste to pick up every two weeks with an automated truck, beginning June 30. Officials have said they appreciate having fewer heavy trucks on residential streets, while Magnant said the contractor likes the decreased risk of worker injury.

"We're going from a driver who had to get out 600 times a day in rain, ice and sleet, he said. "Every time you get out, it's a chance to fall."

In Williamsburg, all the carts were delivered last week, spokeswoman Kate Hoving said. The city has organized an information blitz for residents, including two presentations at Neighborhood Council meetings, e-notifications, outreach on social media and a 41-mile door-to-door campaign to all single-family homes launched by three staff members last week.

Public Works has also coordinated with all 30 multi-family neighborhoods within the city limits to figure out how the carts will work given limited space. Most will have smaller individual carts, eight will have residents take recycling to a central location, one neighborhood will have a dumpster for recyclables and others are using a combination of techniques.

"We've had to be flexible," Hoving said. "Some neighborhoods just don't have space for them."

County Waste is offering 95-gallon and 35-gallon options after Aug. 4, according to information distributed with the new carts. Even with those options, a few people have been unwilling to give up the 18-gallon bins. "Some people have been less than cordial with us, asking to have the containers removed," Magnant said.

That's been offset somewhat by calls from people appreciating the bins and the expanded recycling, he said. Instead of just accepting only plastic bottles and jugs with a neck, now all rigid plastics can be picked up, including things like yogurt cups and grocery store clamshells. Still recyclable are metal cans, paper, cardboard and glass.

Then there's what to do with the old bins. Residents can keep them if they like or drop them at any convenience center or at one of VPPSA's household chemical collection events.

"Or, If they are broken – this is the fun part – they can put it in their cart and recycle them," Magnant said.

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Langley can be reached by phone at 757-345-2346.