As more people stay home due to the coronavirus pandemic, recycling and waste management in the area is being impacted.
In James City County, Jim Hill, superintendent of solid waste, said there was nearly 300 tons of yard waste collected at the Jolly Pond Convenience Center last month. This is a huge jump from a typical month, which is usually only about 130 tons.
“Everyone is home and bored and trying to do these projects they’ve been putting off for so long,” Hill said. The county is collecting a lot of materials from residents that are 100 percent recyclable and doing a number of bulk pick ups.
Hill said there are also about 12,000 people participating in the curbside collection program in addition to those who are bringing their yard waste to the convenience centers.
To help facilitate this increase in work, Hill said the county has redistributed some workers from the Parks and Recreation Department, which has been closed during the pandemic. There are currently two equipment operators and drivers who are on the road about 10 hours a day.
“We’re hoping it will slow down a bit and get back to normal because this is an extraordinary situation we’re in,” he said. “It will depend on this virus and how long it goes on…I think it’ll eventually get back to the way things were but [when] is an unknown right now.”
There are also issues with all this recycling and waste coming in.
Dave Magnant, executive director of the Virginia Peninsula Public Service Authority, which is contracted with the county, said that while there’s been about a 55 percent decrease in commercial recycling, because offices and businesses are closed, there has also been 20 percent increase in residential recycling.
With that there’s also a significant increase in contamination.
“So people are back to wishful recycling or just running out of room and throwing more trash into recycling,” he said. “But that’s more material that people have to physically touch and pull out of the waste stream.”
VPPSA services Hampton, York County, Poquoson, and Williamsburg as well as a number of localities on the Middle Peninsula.
He said Tidewater Fibre Corp., which is contracted recycling for the Historic Triangle, recently has had a number of people trying to recycle batteries, Magnant said.
Tidewater Fibre did not immediately respond for comment.
Magnant said VPPSA also has been getting a lot of calls from people looking to dispose of materials such as old paint and fertilizers as people are cleaning out their garages and working on projects.
While VPPSA had to cancel a number of household chemical collection events in March and April, Magnant said there are new events scheduled for May for residents to dispose of their hazardous materials.
The first will be from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday at Operations Drive in Yorktown followed by an event from 8 a.m. to noon on May 16 at Coliseum Drive in Hampton.
During these events, individuals will not leave their vehicles and collection workers will be wearing personal protective equipment.
For more information, visit VPPSA online.
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