Trash pile: Council supports McIntire recycling, not Ivy landfill
Despite recent cuts to its operating schedule and limits on what it will accept, the McIntire Recycling Center will continue to get the support of Charlottesville taxpayers–- about $28,000 until the end of the calendar year–- even while its usage has plummeted as more convenient options abound.
The City Council voted its position Monday, November 1 after the County of Albemarle, which also funds the operation, issued a request and City Public Works Director Judith Mueller explained how usage was dropping.
"The tonnage is down," said Mueller. "For the current calendar year, it's going to be about half of what it was in 2007."
Mueller told the four present Councilors (Councilor Holly Edwards was absent) that even though the City offers free curbside recycling pickup, about a third of the McIntire's traffic still comes from City residents.
"There's a social atmosphere at McIntire that many people consider very special," explained Mueller.
Yet two councilors gave other reasons why city residents should support McIntire, which typically sees people unloading materials from inside gas-chugging automobiles after painstaking sorting–- a growing rarity in this area ever since a private firm began operating a MRF so efficiently that it won a City contract to sort and process the stuff left at curbside.
"We recycle so much," said Councilor Kristin Szakos of her own household, "that we only put out garbage about once every four weeks. Ours is one of those cars coming in and unloading everything."
Councilor David Brown pointed out that only by sorting can citizens and companies ensure that their old office paper becomes new office paper. "You can't use newsprint or cardboard to make this," said Brown, holding up a sheet of office paper.
The operator of the McIntire Center, the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority, voted June 22 on a slimmer budget that terminates daily acceptance of batteries and compact fluorescent bulbs at McIntire, which now closes on Mondays and Tuesdays.
In its resolution, the City Council indicated that it would urge a more expansive array of operations at McIntire and cease supporting non-remediation activities at what was long called the Ivy Landfill. The move would save about $16,000 through the end of the year.
In 2001, after neighborhood complaints and a lawsuit, the landfill stopped filling land, yet the City remains under an obligation to support environmental remediation there. Mueller noted that only 15 percent of recent users of the Ivy operation, what's now called the Material Utilization Center, are city residents.