By Polina Noskova

Starting next week, Rockbridge County residents will no longer have to sort the tin, aluminum and plastic that they recycle.

A new recycling strategy was approved Monday at the Rockbridge Board of Supervisors meeting along with four other parts of a new waste management plan.

Under that plan:

  • Recycled glass will now be held at the Rockbridge County landfill, located on the Buena Vista city line,  and reused as landfill utility road base.
  • Recycled scrap metal will be stockpiled at the landfill before it is taken away.
  • A new compactor will be purchased and installed to use with the “single-stream” recycling system, which doesn’t separate the plastic and metal.
  • Steps will be taken to educate county citizens on the new waste management plan and allow for citizen feedback.

The waste management plan was introduced to the board at the beginning of this year.

Eventually, the supervisors hope to have manned sites rather than the dumpster locations found throughout the county. The plan also makes way for the opening of a new landfill in Rockbridge County.

The new landfill will serve as an expansion to the already-established landfill facility.

The measures taken at Monday’s meeting were expected to save the county money. County Supervisor Ronnie Campbell said it’s impossible to make money off recycling.

“You’re going to lose money on it, and we’re just trying to cut down on the losses,” Campbell said.

The county is aiming to save money by switching to single-stream recycling, so plastics and metals are no longer separated. Photo by Polina Noskova.

One of the biggest costs with recycling is transporting the recyclables, which are light but large. The new compactor is supposed to reduce some of that volume, allowing for fewer truckloads for the same amount of recycling.

Combining plastic and metals in the compactor allows for compression of the plastic, which holds its shape-memory better than metal.

The county currently hauls recycling 12 to 16 times a month. With this plan, supervisors hope to reduce the hauls to one to five times a month.

The compacted recycling material will be taken to Recycling and Disposal Solutions of Virginia in Roanoke, where it will be separated and recycled.

Jeremy Garrett, the county’s director of solid waste, said it will still be “100 percent recyclable.”

The compactor and its installation will cost the county up to $42,500. No new staff will need to be taken on to staff the compactor.

The supervisors also approved a measure for community outreach. They will create interactive presentations to help residents learn about the new waste management plans and let them provide feedback.

The presentations are tentatively scheduled to begin in January.

James Mayo, an employee at the Fairfield Recycling Center, said that he wasn’t sure how the new policies will affect the number of people recycling, but that he is happy the county is taking further steps to ensure fuller loads for transport.

Mayo wouldn’t predict the effect on his recycling center.

“We’ll just see how it goes.”

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