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Meridian, county hold recycling event

Lunenburg County officials hope to increase public awareness of the need to recycle by partnering with Meridian Waste for a Recycling Right Drop-Off event next month.

The event is scheduled to be held Saturday, Oct. 10, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the main parking lot of Central High School. Residents are encouraged to separate their recycling into four streams before heading to the drop-off event.

“Recycling is most important because it is good for our environment and sustainability of natural resources,” County Administrator Tracy Gee said. “Unfortunately, there has been a downturn in the recycling market due to China’s policy change.”

Tracy Gee

According to Gee, China, America’s largest buyer of recycling and the new policy change requiring all recyclables to be received in an over 99 % pure state.

“This is nearly impossible with even minimal contamination of recyclables, such as having some liquid remaining in a juice bottle or the cap left on a milk jug.” Gee said. “Placing pristine recyclable materials in a non-recyclable trash bag can spoil a whole load.”

Gee said that when that happens, a whole load of recyclables can be rejected.

“Due to all this, processors of recycling everywhere have experienced rejected loads and are required to take the whole load to a landfill then,” she said.

According to Gee, the staff at Meridian Waste picks up the county’s recycling containers at each convenience site and then must pick through the load to see if it is able to be salvaged.

“Many times, there are contaminants, and the load must be deposited in the landfill.” Gee said.

Gee said that every three years, the county is required to report to the Department of Environmental Quality the amount of recycled material in its waste stream, and with so many things becoming contaminated, they may not meet the 15% requirement.

“Our hope is that by having a recycle day with examples of what is acceptable and unacceptable, increased signage and promotion of recycling, we can get the program going in a positive direction.” Gee said.

In 1989, the Virginia General Assembly adopted legislation that established a 25% recycling rate target for communities, which was modified in 2006 as the General Assembly established a two-tiered recycling mandate of 15% and 25%

Individual localities or solid waste planning units (SWPUs) with population densities of less than 100 persons per square mile or with unemployment rates 50% above the state’s average unemployment rate qualify for the 15% mandated level; all others are charged to meet the 25% recycling rate.

During the Oct. 10 event, acceptable items for recycling will include:

Plastics labeled #1 & #2 such as plastic bottles. Plastics must be clear and non-black.

Steel and aluminum cans.

Mixed papers: office paper, junk mail, shopping receipts, newspapers.

Clean, corrugated cardboard. Boxes must be broken down and tape removed.

All items must be rinsed clean and dried before drop-off. Soiled items, such as greasy pizza boxes, unrinsed soda pop cans, and waxy paper, are not acceptable and will be rejected as they contaminate the recycling stream.

While Meridian Waste and Lunenburg County are sponsoring the event, Chief Marketing Officer Mary O’Brien with Meridian Waste said that all clean, non-contaminated materials will be delivered to TFC In Chester for processing and sale of materials to a manufacturer.

“These materials are not destined for the landfill.” O’Brien said.