County moves forward with plan to overhaul solid waste management

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Recyclables stack up at a private facility that handles waste from Charlottesville and the surrounding area. Albemarle County officials are eying privatizing solid waste transfer services, saying they’re no longer willing to support the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority’s transfer station in Ivy. Photo by Ash Daniel. Recyclables stack up at a private facility that handles waste from Charlottesville and the surrounding area. Albemarle County officials are eying privatizing solid waste transfer services, saying they’re no longer willing to support the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority’s transfer station in Ivy. Photo by Ash Daniel.

Albemarle County’s contract with the Material Utilization Center in Ivy has gotten progressively more expensive. So in an attempt to address the area’s growing need for a more efficient way for residents to dispose of solid waste without blowing the bank, contract negotiations with private company van der Linde Container Rentals and Recycling are underway. At last week’s meeting, the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted in favor of moving forward with the plans to build three convenience centers around the county, and directed staff to select sites and designs.

“The cost per ton is significantly increasing,” said Director of Community Development Mark Graham. “Right now we have one facility that serves part of the county very well, but doesn’t serve the rest of the county very well.”

Graham led the discussion at the Wednesday afternoon meeting, and fielded questions from the supervisors. One slide showed a map of the county with three colored circles, each representing a different convenience center with an eight-mile radius. Placed strategically throughout the county, Graham said, the centers would be more accessible to more people, encouraging residents to dispose of waste and recycling responsibly. They’ll also save the county some money. According to Graham, each center will cost roughly $75,000 per year to operate, and the county has budgeted $435,000 for the Ivy facility this year.

County staff have identified Keene—a seven-acre county-owned piece of property in Esmont—as the most likely location for the first convenience center. The county is not yet under contract with van der Linde, and the proposal still needs to go in front of the Planning Commission for review. If all goes according to plan, the first facility will be up and running by July 2014.

Local green guru Teri Kent, founder of Better World Betty, was one of the first to address the Board with her concerns.

“I want to to see full transparency when it comes to what the hauler or vendor is doing with the material,” Kent said at the meeting. “How much is being truly recycled?”

Kent said she often fields questions about where to take common household hazardous waste, like oil, paints, and pesticides, and she’d like to see the new facilities address those needs.

“We waste a lot, and as a taxpayer, I want to make sure we’re effectively and responsibly using our tax dollars,” Kent said.

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