UPDATE March 20, 2018: The sudden closure of van der Linde Recycling in nearby Albemarle County, VA left the city of Harrisonburg with few options for recycling. In response, the city opened a new recycling drop-off center for residents on Monday.
The center is accepting plastics, glass, tin, paper, newspaper and magazines, aluminum and cardboard, though material must be sorted on-site. There will be a city staff attendant present to help residents.
City staff members are still researching alternative, long-term solutions for recycling in the city; the drop-off center will remain open even if an alternative, long-term solution is found, city staff said. City staff told Waste Dive in an email that material from the drop-off site will be going to different recycling facilities "in the city and in Fisherville, VA," about 35 minutes away.
- The van der Linde Recycling & Container Rentals company closed its household waste processing facility in mid-February, citing a "severe drop in commodity prices" and a "bleak forecast." The sudden closure has left much of Albemarle County, VA and the surrounding area without many recycling options, as reported by The Daily Progress. Van der Linde declined to comment.
- Liz Palmer, a member of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, told Waste Dive she wasn't surprised by the facility closing, and that it has had trouble in the past. "In Albemarle County, we have done a pretty poor job, over the years, providing places for people to drop off trash and recycling," Palmer said. "What we're in the middle of doing in the county is getting our act together."
- County Waste, a company which currently handles household collection for Charlottesville, told Waste Dive it was working on rolling out a curbside program for the counties, like Albemarle, which surround the city. Jerry Cifor, a principal with the firm, said the move was definitely, at least in part, a response to the van der Linde facility ending its household waste operations.
In a statement, owner Peter van der Linde said his organization would be giving its "full focus" to its C&D facility, dumpster rental business, and mulch and gravel production. Before suddenly ending production, van der Linde operated a "dirty MRF," a facility where waste and recycling are commingled and sorted at the facility, rather than by customers at the curbside. Van der Linde reportedly had a recovery rate of 25%.
Currently, city residents in Charlottesville are, more or less, unaffected by the changes. But those in the surrounding counties are left with few attractive options, at least until County Waste more fully deploys its collection services. Albemarle County and Charlottesville do have the joint effort McIntire Road Recycling Facility, but that's only for drop-off, which can be unattractive to some potential consumers. And it's in Charlottesville, which can be an inconvenient drive for county residents.
Local competitor Time Disposal is planning to invest up to $2 million in an attempt to provide curbside recycling to customers. So far, that includes two trucks at around $250,000 each and 2,500 bins, according to the Greene County Record.
Palmer told Waste Dive the county was working to build more transfer stations, including one that is set to open in October. The current transfer station, she said, is limited to accepting just cardboard and newspapers. She said the county would try and get "a few more" over the next couple of years.
The facility closure is having further ripple effects around the state. The city of Harrisonburg had a contract with van der Linde that ran until July, but has since had to begin hauling its waste elsewhere. Because of the disruption, the city, home to James Madison University, has temporarily suspended its recycling program.
Even if not directly connected, China's import policies are having a ripple effect across recycling markets, dinging commodity prices. While this has affected some regions of the country more than others, it is increasingly clear that there are new rules to the recycling game, and a lack of robust recycling infrastructure has left some unable to play.