Budget cuts hit curbside recycling

By Heather Sullivan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Tight budgets are forcing some localities to "toss out" free curbside recycling. Some homeowners will have to start paying for curbside pick-up, and many are expected to say forget it.

Chesterfield County is about to start charging for curbside pick-up and Goochland is doing away curbside pick-up. Will this mean more trash in our landfills?

Chesterfield county can't afford to pick up curbside recycling for free anymore. Now homeowners will bill billed $25 a year. Explained Charles Dane, Deputy Director of General Services, "You're going to be billed ($12.50) twice per year on your real estate tax bill beginning in December and again in June of next year."

Homeowners who don't want to pay can opt out by calling the County. Chesterfield expects up to 35% to opt out.

"That could have a significant impact on the program and recycling," reacts Kimberly Hynes, Executive Director of the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority, which manages recycling for Central Virginia localities.

Hynes says budget cuts have also forced Goochland to stop curbside pick up altogether. Residents will have to take their recyclable trash to recycling centers. Said Hynes, "Unfortunately, with the economic times the way they are, localities are faced with making some difficult decisions."

Recycling advocates worry the trash will land in landfills. Said Mike Baum, Executive Director of Keep Virginia Beautiful, "Things like glass and a lot of materials that aren't recycled, the long term effects of that, ... it takes years and years, many hundreds of years, to get rid of that."

Though Chesterfield County does not expect a big change in landfill trash volume because 52% of homeowners already recycle. Said Dane, "Our assumption is anyone who would opt out, or at least most of who would opt out, are not participating in the program anyway."

Homeowner fees for curbside pickup are not uncommon. Richmond and Hanover homeowners pay part of their costs. Most Central Virginia localities are maintaining their curbside programs, so the overall impact may not be severe. Said Hynes, "We're at almost 53% of the waste generated in the region being recycled, so were doing a great job."

But Chesterfield officials hope homeowners will choose to pay for recycling, rather than toss the idea. Said Dane, "We would hope that residents would understand the importance of it, remain in the program."

Chesterfield County says some trash companies are considering offering recyclers a dollar-a-month discount, which could offset some of the recycling fees.

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