Waste expert mentions buy-in, changing processes at business roundtable

Contact Reporterwwright@vagazette.com

In a roundtable put on by the Williamsburg Economic Development Authority, Stephen Geissler, executive director of the Virginia Peninsulas Public Service Authority, said many businesses can't get their people to dutifully recycle.

Speaking to several dozen business owners Tuesday, Geissler said the most important part of recycling responsibly is having employees who care enough to do so consistently. Buy-in, he said, is key.

"The problem a lot of companies have is getting employees to buy-in to separating trash and recyclables," he said. "That's always an issue, and it's one around the city as well."

Geissler said within the waste management spectrum he's most interested in a new trend that has emerged in the past two decades: single stream recycling, which involves placing all recyclables together in a specifically marked bin.

"I could talk all day about single stream recycling," he said. "It really swept across the country pretty quickly, and now it's industry standard."

Geissler remarked that many people think plastic bottles are recyclable, but their caps are not. In reality, he said, machines will separate one from the other.

Rick Overy, the vice chair of the Economic Development Authority, said he knows business owners who have misinformation on how they should handle the waste from their businesses.

"We might have to have you back to address some of the myths," Overy said. "I think everyone in here has heard something wrong about recycling before."

There is a particular item that Geissler is especially passionate about: soda cans. Soda cans are versatile, he said, so throwing them away is wasting precious material that could be re-used.

"If you throw away a soda can, you should be prosecuted to the fullest of the law," said a laughing Geissler. "Aluminum is like gold, because it's one of the only materials that can be recycled back into the same thing. That soda can you're holding could have been a soda can 15 years ago."

Wright can be reached by phone at 757-345-2343.

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