Phase I of city’s new recycling initiative complete!

If you were one of the chosen blocks that got the shiny new carts as part of Phase I of the city’s new alley pickup recycling program, well, then, the rest of us are jealous of you.

Update #1 — March 27, 2015; 7:19 AM

If you were one of the chosen blocks that got the shiny new carts as part of Phase I of the city’s new alley pickup recycling program, well, then, the rest of us are jealous of you.

Kim Hynes, Executive Director of Central Virginia Waste Management Authority, didn’t have hard data to give us just yet (there were some issues with getting everyone their carts, then three weeks of bad weather, which impacts things), but the response has been largely good.

 Things CVWMA has learned from Phase I

  • We all like being able to recycle in the alley for convenience, aesthetics, and privacy (a thousand wine bottles does always feel a little conspicuous)
  • They’ve really gotta figure out the best sized truck to get into some of the tighter alleys
  • Multi-unit buildings do not need one cart per unit (that’s a lot of carts clogging up an alley)

Things that went pretty much as expected

  • In some of the areas that weren’t super heavy in recycling participation anyway, there are some carts being used for trash. At some point, the drivers will (in theory) recognize trash for trash and leave a nice little note, rejecting the cart. I do not want that note, and neither do you!
  • Some people didn’t really pay attention to the Big Recycling News of 2015 and put their cans out to the curb

Questions that make Kim laugh cheerfully when you ask them

  • Why can you recycle #1 and #2 plastic BOTTLES but not other #1 and #2 plastics? (It’s something to do with resin and the way plastics melt, and she wishes they’d just be labeled differently.)
  • Are we ever going to be able to recycle other kinds of plastics? (Yes, they are constantly looking for new ways to get us to recycle. In the meantime, try to buy recyclable materials, ask companies to make things out of recyclable materials, and just use less packaging if you can.)
  • Do you REALLY want me to give people your phone number to call if you have questions? (Yes! Kim and her team genuinely want to hear the questions people have. They assume it means other people have the same question, and this way they know they should put that info on their website. Their number is 804.340.0900)

Phase II is planned to roll out sometime during the later half of this summer, so that everyone can have them before the Big Bike Race™.3 During this rollout, the rest of the cans will be delivered as part of one effort, not in waves.

Then, we can all expect some nice reports on how much more we’re all recycling by the ton! 

— ∮∮∮ —

Original — January 14, 2015

In the latest of Aaron Williams’s 100 Days to a Better RVA pieces to become reality,1 Richmond’s going to clean up its recycling act.

It seems so simple: pick up recycling where the trash gets picked up. If you’re in the burbs, this probably already happens, but for us whose houses are right up on the ol’ street, it’s a different story. Our trash goes in the alley, recycling gets dragged to the street. One’s in a giant can with a lid, one’s in a tiny carton with no lid, surrounded by a thousand paper grocery bags (if you’re me). On a windy day, this is counter-productive, as the recycling blows around to just become trash on the streets. 

Aaron’s piece cites this and other reasons (timeliness, no wheels, inability for businesses to get in the game) as the bedrock for a larger problem. If recycling has a less user-friendly experience, then people might be inclined to skip the effort and throw their beer cans in the trash. More waste. Bigger landfills. Sooner doomsday. 

An organization called Curbside Value Partnership makes it their mission to put better recycling into practice.2 They’ve given four cities, including the one where we live, a nice grant to buy a bunch of 95-gallon Supercan-esque cans for our recycling. We’ll also get some programs that raise our awareness as well as a Recycling Perks initiative that gives us discounts at local merchants. I am not clear on how that will work, but that all sounds good to me. 

Not all households will get the new “recycling carts,” which come with a “radio frequency identification device,” for reasons that also aren’t clear. But what is clear, is that this will make recycling easier, which is a good thing all around. 

Further reading

  1. One day, he will be mayor and the city will/should rejoice. 
  2. Do not steal our future mayor from us, CVP. 
  3. Presumably so we can list them as one-bedroom apartments on Airbnb. 
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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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