Chesapeake residents can soon use an Uber-style service for curbside recycling – The Virginian-Pilot


CHESAPEAKE – After the city of Chesapeake scrapped its citywide curbside recycling program, residents can soon subscribe to an “Uber-style” approach to curbside recycling.

Beginning June 27, households that opt ​​in will pay $ 11 per month, plus $ 7 more for glass recycling.

Like the transportation service Uber, a Utah-based company called Recyclops employs drivers who pick up recycling from participating households. The company is born out of a nationwide struggle for cities to provide recycling services, which has become increasingly costly without a sustainable revenue stream.

In December, the city voted to end its contract with TFC Recycling in an effort to fund other priorities, including pay raises for public safety workers. About 14,500 tons of waste were recycled annually at a cost around $ 4.3 million – almost twice the cost of providing trash pickup services, according to city estimates. Chesapeake will save approximately $ 2.18 million per year from ending the contract, set to expire July 1.

The city began its blue-bin curbside recycling in 2008, serving an estimated 70,000 households across the city. Chesapeake was the only city in Hampton Roads that did not charge a fee for recycling services. Those services were paid for from the general general fund, which competes with other funding priorities like roads and schools. Last summer, City Manager Chris Price briefed the city council on the unsustainability of providing recycling services due to the lack of revenue generated.

Before the council approved the budget at its May 10 meeting, Vice Mayor John de Triquet attempted a last-minute bid to save curbside recycling by proposing a $ 15 fee, but the motion failed 4-5.

To avoid a lapse in recycling services, Recyclops will begin serving Chesapeake on June 27. Since it is a private company, no contract or authorization from the city is needed.

Dennis Wise, vice president of business development at Recyclops, cited some benefits with relying on the private market for recycling services, such as allowing drivers to use their own vehicles, which eliminates the need to purchase specialty trucks. Additionally, as long as a minimum of 100 people sign up for the service, areas in Chesapeake that otherwise would not have the density to justify the cost can also be served.

Wise said Friday that about 250 households in Chesapeake have signed up so far.

“Although we are a business, we are 100% about furthering the mission of recycling,” Wise said. “The number one thing we guarantee is the recyclables we pick up will not end up in a landfill.”

Wise said each driver handles between 35 and 50 homes depending on the route, with pickup conducted Monday through Friday. Participants are given specialty bags to collect recycling materials. Ultimately, the recycling is dropped off at Recycling & Disposal Solutions of Virginia in Portsmouth.

Mayor Rick West, who voted to implement a fee to keep recycling services, told The Virginian-Pilot he would have preferred the council explore other options before voting to end curbside recycling, especially since relying on private companies involves “too many unknowns.” But he also agreed the city-funded model for providing such services is a flawed one.

“Something needed to be done,” West said. “I just do not think our timing was correct.”

Wise will brief the city council about Recyclops’ services during today’s meeting.

City-provided recycling services could still be a possibility in the future. But for now, West said, “it’s in the hands of the consumer.”

“We’ve got to recycle one way or the other,” West said. “Really the question is who’s going to pay for it and how is it going to be paid for. But recycling has to be part of our plans in Chesapeake. ”

Natalie Anderson, [email protected], 757-732-1133.