Ace, how many tons of garbage does the city pick up each year? And where do they put it all?—T. R. Ashcan
A can is merely the first home for your garbage. Say goodbye as it heads to Zions Crossroads and finally to a landfill in Richmond.
T.R.: Ace has become increasingly concerned about this very issue himself. It’s been keeping him up during the wee, lonely hours of the night. He’ll walk to the kitchen, open the refrigerator and take out his leftover chicken tetrazzini (thanks, Mother Atkins), warm it on a paper plate and, after he’s finished, throw the plate in the garbage. He can’t even escape the guilt of wastefulness during his midnight snack.
To get the lowdown on litter, Ace called Steve Lawson, Charlottesville’s public service manager, who told Ace exactly what he didn’t want to hear. Charlottesvillians are throwing away 8,000 tons of trash a year! Ace did the math, and that’s roughly 154 tons per week—and that’s just curbside from residential areas. Commercial areas—which Lawson says the Public Services Department doesn’t deal with anymore—were at one time dropping 18,000 tons of trash per year. Also, Lawson was quick to point out to Ace that the numbers he provided do not include anything dropped off at local waste facilities by individuals (in other words, things not collected curbside), which makes the numbers slightly higher.
After we wasters dispose of our dregs, they’re taken to a transfer facility in Zions Crossroads (which is owned by Allied Waste) and then trucked to a landfill in Richmond, where we never have to worry about them again. Luckily, T.R., people like you (and Ace) are still concerned. Which is why we’re also throwing away 2,500 tons annually in recyclables.
The Charlottesville Public Services Department takes away more than just your everyday excess, too. They also get rid of your sofas, refrigerators and other stuff you don’t want to haul away on your own, totaling about 500 tons annually in large items. That also includes garbage in 32-gallon containers (excluding, of course, things like car parts and hazardous waste, which is not accepted). And, even more than that, they gather 150 tons of brush and other organic material each year, and about 2,000 tons of leaves, which is all taken to a composting facility in Panorama Farms and turned into mulch, which you may be using to grow your own veggies (midnight beef stew snack, anyone?).
Of course, with all the reducing, reusing and recycling going on, Ace still thinks the raw tonnage is pretty offal. So, if you can, trim your waste.