TFC, city agree to recycling extension

Published 10:22 pm Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Tidewater Fibre Corporation and the city of Suffolk came to terms late Tuesday on an extension that will continue the company’s bi-weekly curbside recycling pickups through the end of June.

Under the terms of the extension, the third since the city’s five-year contract with TFC expired in October, the Chesapeake-based company will still collect $3.10 per household per month, along with a $110 per ton surcharge per month to TFC. The surcharge is the same as was agreed to in the second extension.

The surcharge tacks on a cost to the city of somewhere between $44,000 and $60,500 per month based on the city’s average monthly recycling tonnage, which according to Public Works Director L.J. Hansen is 400 tons to 550 tons per month.

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“There are no changes in the program,” said City Manager Patrick Roberts. “People will continue to see the same level of service, the same rules of what you can recycle and what you can’t. Nothing is changing from that regard.”

However, Roberts said TFC has told the city that it may have to come back between now and the end of June and ask for more money as a result of its increasing costs.

“TFC has just indicated (that) because of their costs to dispose of some of the material and recycle the other material, they’re going to have to watch that very closely between now and June,” Roberts said. “But the basic terms I want people to understand is that it’s both parties’ intent, in our agreement, to have the service go through June 30, so that allows us to continue with the service uninterrupted while we take up the longer-term part as part of the budget.”

The extra cost to the city has forced it to dip into the reserve fund within the refuse enterprise fund.

“It is a financial implication to the city, and it’s a short-term solution,” Roberts said. “We really need to tackle the long-term programmatic issues as part of the budget.”

During the first extension, TFC imposed a surcharge of $95 per ton of recycling per month, and when it was extended again to Jan. 31, the surcharge rose to $110 per ton.

Residents pay their refuse fee every six months when they receive their real estate tax bill.

As part of the fee, residents pay for curbside trash service, bulk pickup up to 12 times per year and recycling.

“If they want the service to continue after June, there will be an increase effective July 1,” Roberts said, “and we’ve just got to talk about what that increase does as part of the budget.”

Roberts, Hansen and TFC owner Michael Benedetto had been hopeful in recent days of coming to terms on an extension. Without it, the city would have had to begin collecting the blue cans used for recycling, and deliver the contents of those to the Southeastern Public Service Authority for it to handle.

Benedetto said in a recent interview at its Chesapeake facility that the company is hopeful to work out a new five-year agreement with the city to continue providing its recycling service.

However, the city has been concerned about the increasing costs of the service, which Benedetto said is the result of lower demand in recyclable materials, particularly in China.