As the subject of environmental care is brought to the forefront of national discussion, in the Peninsula it is becoming more difficult to recycle as costs continue to rise.
“No, this is not a yearly normal thing,” said Brian Woodward, director of public works for York County. “The rates are increasing because of the change in the recycling market.”
What Woodward is referring to is the national trend in recycling costs after China, previously the largest recycling manufacturer for the nation, stopped accepting America’s plastic.
Williamsburg, James City County and York County are contracted with the Virginia Peninsula Public Service authority. Through new contract negotiations, Tidewater Fibre Corp. will be taking over instead of the previous contractor, County Waste.
As a result, residents in York County will see a spike in their trash and recycling bill by $7 each month starting in May.
James City County staff is also proposing to start charging a monthly $7 for curbside recycling.
In Williamsburg, the cost to recycle will not change for customers, but the city will see a higher contract price: from $55,000 per year with the old contract to $205,000 annually under the new one.
Taking care of the environment
The recycling program in York County isn’t a mandatory program, Woodward said, so if a person can’t afford it, they can simply stick to trash collection.
But during a time when environmental care is starting to hit home, this can become an issue.
“We projected there would be a decrease in those residents that would want to participate in continued recycling,” Woodward said. “But it’s the right thing to do, it keeps products out of landfills.”
Woodward said if residents choose not to recycle, then their products will end up in a landfill which will pollute waterways and take up space. Currently, waste collected in York County is taken to a landfill in King William County, but Woodward reiterated there is limited space.
If residents want to recycle but don’t want to pay the increase, York County offers a recycling drop off center where residents can bring their recycling without charge, except for tires.
Hampton and Newport News
In Hampton and Newport News, solid waste and recycling collection is done a little differently.
In Newport News, the city bundles solid waste and recycling fees for residents which costs anywhere from $5.84-$7.30 depending on the size of the garbage can — that’s $303.68 to $379.60 a year.
Newport News collects and processes its residents’ waste at the Recovery Operations Center and recycling collected is processed by Bay Disposal and Recycling, said Kim Lee, spokeswoman for the city.
The Newport News city manager’s recommended budget for next year does not include an increase to the solid waste fee, Lee said.
In Hampton, the city could charge more for the fiscal year 2020.
Unlike Newport News, Hampton does not combine solid waste and recycling fees automatically, which means residents can opt-out of recycling services.
Residents who decide to combine both services must recycle at least two times a month. The cost: $6.10 per week, or $317.20 a year.
Robin McCormick, communications strategist from the City of Hampton, said that is to provide an economic incentive for residents to recycle. She said more than 90 percent of the residents choose to do so.
Those who want only solid waste collected are charged $616.20 annually, according to the city’s solid waste website.
Just like Newport News, Hampton processes its own solid waste, but it outsources its resident’s recyclables to TFC, also the new contractor for VPPSA, said Fred Gaskins, spokesman for the City of Hampton.
The city manager recommended increasing the weekly fees by $1.15, Gaskins said.
The proposal, if passed by Hampton City Council Wednesday, would cost residents anywhere from $377-$676 per year.