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The City of Chesapeake has ended its curbside recycling contract. Chesapeake Waste Management now empties both brown and blue bins and disposes of the contents as trash on normal City collection schedules. We understand this transition has raised many questions so we've answers to FAQs as well as background on this decision.
For those who wish to continue recycling, our seven drop-off sites are now open and subscription-based services are available.
If you are a company interested in offering subscription-based recycling in Chesapeake, please submit an interest form to get started.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the recycling options now?
A variety of new recycling options, from subscription-based home pickup to recycling drop-off sites, are now available. Learn more about the options and other frequently asked questions.
What do I do with my blue bin?
You can keep your blue bin to use as an extra trash bin which is now serviced weekly by the City, alongside your brown bin, unless you live in select townhouse communities which will have slightly different accommodations (see below).
What if I don’t want to keep my blue bin?
We encourage you to keep your blue bin to allow for additional trash capacity. Also, if you voluntarily surrender your blue bin(s) but decide later on that you do in fact want the additional capacity, you will have to purchase an additional bin by contacting the Treasurer's Office. If you still do not wish to keep it, please call the Customer Contact Center at 757-382-2489 to request that we take it back.
How many bins will the City empty from my household?
We understand that many households have purchased additional brown or blue bins in the past so City crews will empty a maximum of 3 bins per household per week.
Will the City have enough staff & trucks to manage the extra waste?
Yes. We have hired additional staff and have leased additional trucks in order to meet the increased waste demand.
Will bulk waste collection be affected?
There are no changes to bulk waste collection guidelines.
Will this impact my taxes?
Several questions have been raised about whether or not this will impact taxes. The City examines all programs and services to identify savings. As previously noted, nearly half of the material formerly collected from the blue bins was either burned or disposed of in the landfill. This poor performance is why curbside recycling was one of several programs, services, and/or projects that was cancelled. City Council was able to identify enough savings to address their priorities and provide tax relief for Fiscal Year 2023. This tax relief will effectively reduce the tax rate by 4 cents per $100 of assessed value and will be applied in the form of a credit to Fiscal Year 2023 real estate tax bills.
Select townhouse communities that currently have to supply their own trash cans for weekly emptying will be transitioning to city-provided automated trash bins. This will provide you with a larger bin and will be safer and more efficient for our team members who will no longer have to physically dump bins into rear loader trucks. The City will also be removing all blue bins from these neighborhoods. Details on these transitions will be communicated in a letter to each affected community ahead of time.
City Council Work Session on Recycling - February 22, 2022
Watch this City Council Work Session from February 22, 2022 to hear an overview of why City Council canceled the TFC Recycling Contact and what alternative solutions could be pursued.
Why did Chesapeake cancel curbside recycling?
We have experienced critical staffing shortages in many areas that have impacted our ability to provide core services. For example, throughout much the past year, we have had a vacancy rate of approximately 50% in our Solid Waste Management division. This has led to suspension of bulk trash collection and has even challenged our ability to provide weekly trash pickup. We’ve had similar vacancy concerns in other core service areas including our 911 dispatch center. In addition, last summer, local cities significantly boosted public safety pay and offered bonuses encouraging police officers to stay with our City. In order to remain competitive, we have implemented pay increases and bonus programs to ensure that we can provide these core services. In order to pay for these services, City Council has identified a series of cost saving measures to redirect existing funding to areas of highest priority. Canceling the recycling contract was just one of several cost saving measures identified.
Why was recycling included as one of the cost savings measures?
Recycling is one of many services that is funded through taxes and it must be evaluated against all other priorities including education, public safety, trash collection, stormwater management, road maintenance, etc. As part of the budget process, we try to identify ways to improve performance and reduce costs in all of our programs. Our last recycling contract expired during a period in which the market for recyclables had considerably weakened. When we bid out a new contract in late 2019, only one vendor responded. The terms of that contract required the City to pay the highest rate in the region for curbside recycling service; a rate which has increased by 73% since 2018.
While the cost of our recycling program is nearly twice as expensive per ton as is our weekly trash collection, we elected to continue providing that service because it was valued by our community. However, as we evaluated programs and services for potential cost savings, we noted that nearly half of the materials collected through our curbside recycling program were either burned or disposed of in the landfill. This is not what our residents expect when they recycle; particularly given the high cost of the program. Ultimately, it was determined that our recycling contract was extremely costly for our taxpayers (including those that do not get curbside recycling service), that the performance of the program did not achieve desired outcomes, and that the money spent on this service would be better utilized ensuring that we have adequate staffing to maintain our weekly trash collection service, resume bulk trash collection as soon a possible, and ensure that we can adequately staff our public safety operations.