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At their March 8 meeting, City Council reaffirmed their decision to end the current model of government-funded curbside recycling in Chesapeake, effective June 30, 2022.
What is the status of Chesapeake’s recycling program?
The City of Chesapeake has cancelled its curbside recycling contract, effective July 1, 2022. No changes will occur to recycling until July, at the earliest. Residents are encouraged to continue recycling all appropriate items in their blue bins until that time. Find the full list of accepted items at www.CityofChesapeake.net/Recycle.
What will the City do with the blue bins?
For now, we ask that residents continue to use their blue bin for accepted recyclables until the end of June when the TFC Recycling contact ends. Citizens will be allowed to keep their blue bins, and as of July 1, 2022, can use them as an extra trash can which will be serviced by the City.
We’ve heard discussions about subscription-based recycling. How will that work?
As the name implies, this is a service where private citizens will contract with a private recycling provider(s) to collect and transport recycled goods to a commercial recycling center. All collections will take place on private property, and as such, will not utilize the blue bins that citizens are accustomed to. Pricing will be as agreed upon by the subscriber and service provider, much like a cable TV subscription. Current subscription-based recycling providers include:
Dennis Wise, VP of Sales
Happy Planet Recycling
Will other subscription-based vendors be added?
If you are a company interested in providing subscription-based recycling services in the City of Chesapeake, please contact Mr. Greg Martin, Waste Management Administrator, at 757-382-3439 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How will subscription-based recycling differ from curbside recycling?
If you choose to subscribe, your first step is to contact the vendor of your choice to learn about their particular system. They will provide instructions and resources to allow for the collection of recyclables in accordance with their program (e.g. Recyclops provides customers with bags to place recyclables in, and Recyclops staff collect the bags from your property on your collection day.) Please note that recycling collection schedules will be determined by your subscription provider of choice, and may not align with your City-scheduled trash collection day.
What is the status of residential drop-off locations?
We are developing plans for residential drop-off centers and expect to announce exact locations soon. We intend to start a basic program and gradually grow it as we determine the best way to accomplish our recycling goals.
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.
How is recycling and trash collection funded?
Unlike the City’s public utilities (e.g. water and sewer) which are funded through user fees that can only be used to provide those services and are only paid by users of that service, solid waste collection in Chesapeake is one of many services that is funded through taxes. The current fiscal year’s budget for Solid Waste Services is just over $22 million. While other cities in Hampton Roads charge a user fee for trash collection and recycling services, there is no separate solid waste fee in Chesapeake.
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 leave 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.
Is recycling or trash collection included in my HRSD bill?
No. HRSD (Hampton Roads Sanitation District) deals with wastewater collection and treatment, not curbside trash collection or recycling. There is no trash or recycling collection charge on HRSD bills.