City kicks off recycling campaign

Published 10:06 pm Wednesday, January 6, 2010

With big, blue, 95-gallon containers lined up along the sidewalk behind them, Suffolk officials launched their new recycling campaign Wednesday afternoon.

“We had a form of recycling years ago that wasn’t working,” Mayor Linda Johnson said to a small group of elected officials and members of the city’s Clean Community Commission. “It didn’t get done what it needed to do.”

Johnson and other members of Suffolk’s city council hope the new program works out better than the old one, which was costly to the city, inefficient for those who did the collections and disliked by many participants, who were frustrated over being required to segregate recyclable materials.

TFC Recycling, a Chesapeake-based company that handles the recycling needs of more than half a million Hampton Roads residents, has worked with the city to set up a program that officials expect will work out better for everybody involved, and both company and city officials were confident on Wednesday that the results would be positive.

“I’m very optimistic,” Johnson said following the ceremony, in which she and other city officials signed up for the subscription-based recycling program.

For a $12 fee each month, those who choose to participate will receive a recycling container similar to the trash containers the city provides most homes. Participants can dump a wide variety of materials into the cans, which then would be picked up twice a month on trash day.

The cans are dumped into a regular garbage truck, which carries the material to the Chesapeake facility, where elaborate machinery separates the various recyclable items.

The process is quicker and simpler than the old one, and the sorting facility is the first of its kind on the East Coast, according to Michael Benedetto, TFC’s vice president and owner.

Benedetto and others believe the simplicity of participation will prove attractive to people in Suffolk, even if they have to pay for the service. Items that can be recycled under the new program include cardboard boxes; all kinds of paper products; any color of glass; steel, tin and aluminum cans; and No. 1 or No. 2 plastic bottles.

“I’m so excited, so happy, that Suffolk is moving in this direction,” he said. “It makes so much sense.”

Suffolk will have the company’s first subscription program, he added. In Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and other communities where TFC operates, either the municipality or a solid waste authority picks up the tab, and all of the community’s residents can participate.

Susan Davis moved to Suffolk from one of those communities, Virginia Beach, where she and her husband got used to curbside recycling. It was something they missed when they got to Suffolk. As a member of Suffolk’s Clean Community Commission, she said, “I’m really thrilled” about the new program.

“I think there will be a lot of participation,” she said, adding that the fee might be palatable for many Suffolk residents, “when you consider that it’s $144 a year to help save the planet.”

Suffolk needs 3,000 households — about 10 percent of the city’s total — to agree to participate and pay the monthly fee in order for the contract with TFC to take effect. City and company officials have set a deadline of Earth Day, April 22, for those commitments.

To register online, or for more information, visit www.tfcrecycling.com/suffolk. Those who sign up for the program do not have to give their billing information until after the 3,000-household threshold is met.