PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — While the “three R’s” have long been known as “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” it can also stand for “Rising Recycling Rates.”
Several communities are floating the idea of implementing curbside recycling fees or increasing their existing fees in order to keep up with rising costs.
“The cost of recycling has tripled,” said Dawn Olesky, James City County’s environmental coordinator, who goes onto say profit margins for recyclable goods are the smallest she has seen.
The blame rests mostly on China’s tough new restrictions on recycling imports, Olseky says. For years much money was to be made shipping the material overseas.
Add to that a decline in the newspaper industry, which is both a customer and contributor of recycled material, a slumping demand for recycled glass, people just not recycling the right way, and you have a recycling companies charging more.
In Norfolk, the city recently conducted a survey to figure out if people felt curbside recycling was still beneficial. 62 percent of respondents said they would pay more to keep the service.
In Norfolk’s FY 2020 proposed budget, a $2 monthly fee has been proposed to allow for the city to continue contracting with TFC.
Similarly, James City County and York County administration is proposing a $7/month and $7.50/month fee respectively.
Currently, 80 percent of James City County residents recycle with the county paying for the service out of the General Fund.
Under the proposed plan, a person would have the option to opt out of the service.
“It’s disappointing, but the hope is that people will continue to do the right thing, and prevent that item from showing up in the landfill,” Olesky said. “Citizens should be looking at reducing their waste in the first place. Waste minimization. reduce, reuse then recycle.”
The county’s recycling centers would still be free of charge. However, Olesky hopes more options will emerge.
“I just see this as an advantage in a lot of ways,” Okesky said. “Sending it overseas was easy and it worked and everything. But let’s take a look at what we are doing first and see if we can come up with some domestic markets and solutions.”
Cities of Hampton and Chesapeake have also expressed the need to possibly raise recycling rates in the future.