Controversy continues: As Allied gets City boost for recycling approach

In the latest battle against renegade recycler Peter Van der Linde and in an apparent effort to reverse a dwindling share of the local trash market, corporate hauler Allied Waste Services has won help from the City of Charlottesville to unveil an "enhanced" recycling program.

The announcement came May 3 in a City Hall press conference, at which the company– part of a larger concern called Republic Services– announced that it would soon begin handing out 96-gallon covered recycling bins for a bi-weekly recycling pick-up in much of the Belmont neighborhood.

"I'll put our waste management program up against any in the country," said City Councilor Dave Norris, who joined public works director Judy Mueller and an Allied executive at the Thursday morning event. "We try to pull as much material out of the waste stream, and this program today is one more step in that process."

As Mueller revealed, a pilot program of the new service launched last year in the Greenbrier neighborhood with a 76 percent participation rate and a 32 percent increase in the amount of recyclables collected.

The new program comes three years into to a five-year, $440,000-a-year contract Allied won from the City of Charlottesville to collect curbside recycling. Moreover, it follows a battle of the noodle, a barrage of Allied advertising claiming that the competing "all-in-one" approach espoused by Van der Linde leads to "contamination."

Since Van der Linde opened his $11 million Materials Recovery Facility four years ago in Zion Crossroads, that MRF's ability to extract recyclables from a mixed-waste stream has helped Van der Linde win over a dozen local haulers. Besides reducing the junk thrown underground, that translates into less business for the larger landfill-owning corporate haulers.

And they don't seem happy. Part of an S&P 500 company, Allied recently hired a local public relations firm to craft a feisty ad campaign to undercut the heart of Van der Linde's story. Talking about liquids, saucy pasta, and grease-stained pizza boxes, this campaign alleges that "contamination" ruins much of what goes into an "all-in-one" bin, an assertion Van der Linde denies.

Strangely enough, while Allied continues the campaign to discredit haulers offering all-in-one, the City contracts with another corporate hauler, Waste Management, by paying the firm $759,430 a year to collect household trash and recycling in a single bin– the all-in-one approach– and haul it out to Van der Linde Recycling.

The way Norris sees it, the City is offering a win-win situation for citizens, who can either separate recyclables from trash or just chuck it all in one bin. Either way, the entire household waste stream within the city limits is getting scoured for recyclables before heading to a landfill.

Still, does it make sense for one City trash partner to try to discredit the other? More importantly, what's the truth of Allied's claim that recyclables collected in an all-in-one system get too contaminated to recycle?

A recent move by the sprawling Forest Lakes community rejects Allied's assertions as inaccurate. On July 1, after months of deliberation, the neighborhood plans to dump Allied and go with a smaller hauler using Van der Linde Recycling.

While Allied's "Separate, Don't Contaminate" campaign claims that it can put less waste in landfills, it offers no hard data on contamination levels. And comparisons between the amounts of recycling processed by Allied compared to Van der Linde Recycling, VDLR, paint a different picture.

According to figures from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, VDLR collected 68,565 tons of construction waste and recycled about 56,000 tons of it in 2010. Meanwhile, Allied collected just 1,824 tons (due to limitations of the transfer station it uses) and recycled none. VDLR also managed to recycle 12,938 tons of trash and recycling to Allied's 4,725 tons.

However, as Meuller pointed out at the press conference, convenience is all well and good, but the quality of recovered materials, aided by public participation, produced measurable results in the Greenbrier test program. Indeed, one authority tells a reporter that segregating the obvious recylables maintains a high-quality stream.

"If the purpose of the recycling program is to recover materials to be used in manufacturing new products, then two streams [trash and recycling] is better," says Richard Gertman, a nationally known expert on solid waste and resource management issues.

However, Gertman said it also depends on the community's goal.

"If the idea is to reduce materials going to a local landfill," he said, "then [an all-in-one] trash system will likely better achieve that goal."

Ironically, when curbside recycling first came on the scene, studies suggested that it would lead to greater contamination of recyclables because households could put them together in the same bins. That's the same criticism currently leveled against the all-in-one approach. However, many of the criticisms of curbside bins were put to rest by the advancement of sorting technology.

Indeed, Allied's service manger Tad Phillips, who has been in the waste business since the late 1970s, gave a short history of progress at the press conference. He pointed out that the volume of recyclables that haulers began to receive in the early 1990s (when public participation began skyrocketing) became so large that the old way that haulers did it– sorting cans, paper, plastic, and different colors of glass into separate truck compartments at curbside– became a "losing battle."

"Then they developed good sorting technology," says Phillips, "and single-streaming became possible." (Even though it may seem more intuitive to use it to describe all-in-one systems, "single-stream" is still the EPA-approved term for segregating recyclables from household waste.)

According to Allied's advertising campaign, oily pizza boxes and spaghetti-stained newspapers appear to be obstacles that Van der Linde Recycling just can't handle. But given technology's role in the success of so-called single-stream recycling, couldn't advancements in technology also make the all-in-one approach espoused by Van der Linde equally as successful?

"I don't know the answer to that," says Phillips. "We just do single-stream recycling."


So when we deduct the cost of the extra trucks and pickups and account for the traffic congestion and then divide by the containers left out on the street, and add back in the labor the city will use to enforce the new laws requiring recycling bins to be removed by 10 am and then factor in the people who cannot afford those fines who then refuse to recyle we end up with probably one extra landfill for the entire state of virginia in the next 100 years if we just used vander linds method instead. Of ocourse by the time we needed THAT landfill the current one will be buried with dirt, trees planted on it and it will be a nice park.

But why use common sense, that too easy....

"...96-gallon covered recycling bins for twice-a-week recycling pick-up..."

FYI, I think you have that backwards. In the Greenbrier neighborhood, at least, it's biweekly pickup.


Thanks so much for pointing that out. You are correct. And it has been corrected in the story.


No wonder unions got into the trash business in New York. Too much money to spread around with all those hands out.

And here we see the prime example of what causes so many problems in this country. Just look at the picture and tell yourself what you see, another fat white guy. They'll be the death of us yet.(oh, by the way, I'm white too but I just make observations and draw obvious conclusions)

Landfills are extremely expensive. They need lots of trash per month to generate CAS FLOW. Mr. Peter van de Linde is destroying their business. So they hire a local public relations (??) firm to try and float deception as fact.

Lots of money is riding on this decision by City Council and Board of Supervisors. Do you feel good about the ethic of your elected ones???

perspective..... if it were not for white guys you wouldn't be using a car, computer, and most other significant inventions....

everybody hates a white guy with as gut until their car breaks down and he is the only one who stops and helps...

Oh Mr Marshall, history is full of fat white guys both past and present who we would all be better off had they not been born. Stalin, Hitler, John Beohner, that fat Italin guy they hung upside down during WW2 Moose who? , Johnson gave us civil rights at the cost of 60,000 good men, thats right, Viet Nam was a done deal not very well known. Lets see, most of our robber barons of yesteryear were old fat white guys and I'm sure the Koch brothers are in great shape. I'm sure the Pope has no real grudge against how many child molesters on the church? Thats just for starters, and I can fix my own own car without Bubbas help, and life was just great before these laptops and we even put a man on the moon without cell phones. Show me a fat white guy and I'll show you a self centered egotistical lazy slob every time.

bill marshall, perspective...what on earth? We're not going to remove your posts, but only because we hope they'll serve as perfect examples to others of how not to participate in a discussion that is relevant to the issues raised by the story.


Dave McNair- Good call. Good artical. Shame it was poorly treated.

I think Van der Linde is right. When I first moved to Belmont all my trash was in one bin and some of that was getting recycled. When allied took over all my trash continued to go into one bin and none of it got recycled.

Oh pious one(Dave), the thread is about trash, I only elaborate on its different forms. Besides, what are forums for than to communicate? If a tangent occurs, big deal, how many other threads have gotten off course? Many. Chill.

Do you notice that van de Linde speaks of how much TRASH he recycles. Allied speaks of how much of the RECYCLABLES WHICH YOU SORT they recycle.

Oh that PR firm should be exposed!

perspective...if I could get back the time I've spent policing people who hurl insults at others while hiding behind their anonymity, post under multiple names, make unverified claims and allegations, and engage in wildly off-topic discussions...I could take a long vacation.


I don't understand. Now I have a small bin I put recycling in and it gets picked up once a week. Under the new system I put my recycling in a big bin and it gets picked up every other week. What's the difference besides the size of the container and how often it is picked up?

Also where did the 32% increase number come from and how was it calculated? I am very skeptical that they incresed recycling anywhere near that much.