Good move on recycling

Published 9:15 pm Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The extension of a contract to provide recycling services to Suffolk’s residents, announced late Tuesday, is good news for Suffolk.

The city’s old contract with TFC Recycling expired in October, and, including Tuesday’s announcement, there have been three extensions. They did not come without a cost, though, as the city is paying a hefty surcharge to help cover increased costs of recycling. The city has dipped into one-time funds to cover that cost, which is not a good financial spot to be in.

A bid made by TFC Recycling last year in response to a request for proposals was not to the city’s liking, and City Manager Patrick Roberts recently floated the idea of suspending the program if another agreement could not be reached.

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Trouble in recycling has been a systemic issue worldwide for quite some time. Prices fetched for items that can be turned into new items are dropping, and that means costs to those at the other end of the process — those who wish to help the environment by recycling — are rising. It’s easy to blame everything on China, but it’s much more complex than that.

Regardless of the issues, many people in Suffolk want to recycle, and TFC Recycling recently assured residents through an interview with Suffolk News-Herald reporter Jimmy LaRoue that recycling is still working. The economics of recycling might be changing, but the plastic bottles and aluminum cans Suffolk folks are throwing in their blue cans are still, by and large, being turned into new products rather than winding up in the landfill.

Still, something needs to change, and that’s why we’re glad to see the extension of the contract. Having more time and a budget process to go through will help the city, TFC and other parties take a more measured approach to finding the way forward.

Part of the reason recycling these days costs so much and is so labor-intensive is because wishful thinkers put the wrong things in their cans, either out of laziness or ignorance. Anything that’s not approved to be in there is not approved for a reason. Many such items are dangerous to human workers, damaging to the complicated machinery or simply slow the process down considerably.

We urge all of our readers to check out these lists of recyclables and non-recyclables carefully, and visit the TFC website at or contact TFC Recycling if you have other questions.


  • Aluminum, steel and tin cans
  • Paper, like newspapers, magazines, junk mail and phone books
  • Plastic bottles (rinse thoroughly, remove caps)
  • Detergent containers (rinse thoroughly, remove caps)
  • Paper books (must remove plastic covers and binding)
  • Clean cardboard (flatten to save space)
  • Glass jars and bottles (drain, rinse and throw away cap)

Not recyclable

  • Plastic bags
  • Aluminum foil
  • Styrofoam
  • Paper cups
  • Egg cartons
  • Clam shell plastic
  • Dirty plastic containers
  • Medicine bottles
  • Pizza boxes
  • Batteries
  • Balloons
  • Animal food containers
  • Packaging in a combination of cardboard and plastic