Bristol, Va. dealing with increased amount of trash piling up, months after recycling program ends

ABC Tri-Cities

BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL/ABC Tri-Cities) – Months after the end of Bristol, Virgina’s recycling program, another issue is quickly piling up.

We learned about a spike in trash pick-up and what the city is urging people to do.

People in the region are struggling with recycling due to the collapse of the oveseas recycling market. Bristol, Virginia Environmental and Safety Compliance Officer, Mark campbell, gave a tour of the Bristol, Virginia solid waste facility to see the impact that it has made.

“We really don’t have a place to take any of the material that we were collecting for recycling,” he said, as he pointed at the massive piles of trash around the site.

Recycling done incorrectly in the United States has led to countries like China barring shipments of trash to them for processing.

Campbell said, “Contamination may be as simple as one piece of black plastic in a whole dumpster. They will reject it and once they reject it, it becomes trash.”

He said it is not just separating paper, plastic and cardboard.

Nowadays, most recycling places can only accept items that are considered #1 or #2 plastics. These are considered to be easily recycled. More information can be found here.

“They’ve made the standard so stringent that nobody can meet them. We can’t meet the standard so we can’t ship it over there anymore. They really don’t want to be a dumping ground is what it comes down to,” Campbell said.

Now, there has been a major increase in the amount of trash brought to Bristol, Virginia’s Waste Management Facility.

“If you take your waterbottles and you put them into a shopping bag, plastic shopping bag, then throw them into the recyling container, that contaminates the whole containier,” he explained.

Campbell said the problem is not yet as severe in Bristol as other in other Virginia cities. He said some cities like Virginia Beach, fine those who do not cooperate with recycling guidelines.

“They’re {other Virginia cities} really impacted by this,” he said. “There’s no way anybody can meet that recycling mandate right now.”

They have got the collection part down but at this time – there isn’t a simple answer. the responsibility falls on the citizens, regulators and the industry.

According to Bristol, Virginia Public Works Director, Wallace McCulloch, there is supposed to be a meeting in August moderated by Virginia DEQ to discuss the regional recycling issues with the goal of moving toward a regional solution.

He explained that the major hurdles to recycling are:

“The cost to recycle. The costs are affected by the price paid for plastic and the cost to deliver it to the receiving company, and having a “clean” recycle stream. As we discussed, contaminated recyclables are either useless or the value is reduced. This will require educating the public so the recycle streams are not contaminated,” McCulloch explained.

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