STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) — The City of Staunton is trying out a new recycling program by getting rid of curbside pick-ups and creating one centralized facility for people to take their items to.
“Currently, we are picking up recycling curbside, but only selected materials: paper, cardboard, cans and glass,” Director of Public Works Jeff Johnston said.
The city has not been collecting plastics for two years now.
Johnston said the curbside program just has not allowed for proper recycling.
“The number one plastics separated from the number two plastics, other vendors have requirements for cleanliness or labels removed,” Johnston said. “The combination of those high quality requirements and curbside collection, that was the impediment that was preventing us from recycling plastics.”
He added that oftentimes, vendors will not accept materials coming from a curbside program due to the risk of contamination, sending them to a landfill.
“So while curbside collection is and always be very convenient, it was not leading us to that ultimate goal of a full-spectrum, holistic recycling program,” Johnston said.
Now, in an effort to reach that goal, the city will have one centralized facility where people can go to drop off and sort all kinds of recyclable material, including plastics.
The new drop-off location will be in Gypsy Hill Park, right next to the football stadium and Lake Tams.
“And we will make sure that it gets properly sorted, that everything in there is something that can be recycled and cut our contamination way, way down,” Johnston said.
And while that’s what many people in Staunton want, some are still concerned about losing curbside.
“When it comes to the recycling curbside, it really was not true recycling because most of the material was ending up in the landfill,” Mayor Andrea Oakes said.
“The goal of any recycling program is that no recyclable materials end up in the landfill, that if something can be recycled, there’s an opportunity for it to be recycled. Without plastics, that wasn’t the program we had here,” Johnston added.
While they plan to start simple, Johnston hopes this new program will be the center of a larger conversation about sustainability.
“A central recycling facility is really sort of a lightning rod for conversations, education and outreach on a number of issues, not just recycling,” Johnston said. “My hope, and certainly my efforts in the future, will be to make this just the first step on a road to a much more robust environmental program.”
Cutting curbside collection will also save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Mayor Oakes.
“It’s something we’ve been very enthusiastic about supporting because it’s just a matter of bringing recycling back to the City of Staunton,” Oakes said.
Folks can expect curbside to end and this new recycling program to begin this summer. It is a pilot program, so the city is open to hearing ideas from the community.