Hazardous waste? RSWA cuts recycling amidst budget woes

news-recyclingcenterIs the McIntire Recycling Center doomed?

The McIntire Recycling Center would seem to have been dealt a blow by City Council’s recent decision to award a major city trash/recycling contract to the area leader in no-effort recycling, Van der Linde Recycling, which (in addition to the City’s curbside recycling program) gives residents yet another reason not to use the park-and-drop center. But (yet another) blow also came from the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority itself, which voted June 22 on a slimmer budget that would terminate daily acceptance of fluorescent lights and batteries at McIntire, which will now be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. In a related move, paint will no longer be accepted at the Ivy transfer station.

That’s some pile of bad news for do-it-yourself recyclers, who, according to the RSWA’s recycling manager, Bruce Edmonds, have continued to flock to the Center, which has been on McIntire Road since 1979.

“Man, this place has never been busier,” says Edmonds, who recently announced he will retire in September to launch his own consulting firm. “There’s always a flood of cars here. And when we’re closed they save it up and come the next day.”

Indeed, according to a recent RSWA survey, 2,585 cars visited the center between June 8–13, or 430 cars a day, with 65.2 percent coming from the County, 31.7 percent from the City, and 3.1 percent from outside the RSWA's service area. But the struggling Authority's $2 million budget–- already representing a 47 percent decrease from last year–- will need continued financial support from both local governments through December. The current subsidy agreement expired June 30, and with a reported net operating loss of $1.8 million for fiscal 2010, the Authority appears to be in dire straits.

Indeed, during the recent budget hearing, the Authority proposed installing a “donation box” at the McIntire Center to help keep it afloat. The new budget also calls for the Ivy facility to be closed on Mondays, for 4.5 positions to be “reduced,” and for 1.5 positions to be eliminated.

news-recyclingcurtailingBut Van der Linde continues to accept the items listed here.

The board's moves were lamented by the Sierra Club, whose leader, John Cruickshank, told Charlottesville Tomorrow that the changes could spur a wave of pollution, as frustrated citizens dump toxic products in environmentally unfriendly ways. The struggling Authority hopes to save $80,000 annually by reducing  acceptance of hazardous materials to just one day per year.

“Although these programs have been popular, their elimination is needed to reach budget reduction targets,” Authority director Tom Frederick told the Board.

However, Peter Van der Linde of contract-winning Van der Linde Recycling points out that his state-of-the-art facility began accepting tires, batteries, paint, and light bulbs several months ago, services that he claims cost him next to nothing and which sometimes even earn him a few bucks by serving as a clearinghouse.

“You bring me a battery, I stack them up on a pallet, and then the battery guy comes and gets them and pays me a dollar each,” says Van der Linde. “We get enough tires, we call the tire guy. We get enough light bulbs, we call the light bulb guy.”

As for paint, which he says he doesn’t get much of anyway, Van der Linde says he has a system approved by the state Department of Environmental Quality, in which paint is poured into an absorbent material where it hardens, rendering it non-toxic.

“We can take anything the RSWA does six days a week,” says Van der Linde.

Ironically, Van der Linde’s facility appears to be the main cause of the Authority’s budget woes. As Frederick informed the RSWA Board, the steep revenue decline can be traced to the fact that most commercial haulers are now using “privately owned facilities.”

It should come as no surprise. After all, the RSWA’s Ivy facility charges a tipping fee of $66 per ton, $27 per ton more than Van der Linde is charging the City, and at least $14 more than other Van der Linde customers pay.

Meanwhile, Waste Management is basically the only commercial hauler left using the RSWA’s Ivy facility, and that’s because the company is still locked into hauling and disposal contracts with the Authority for trash coming from UVA and from the City or County.

A contract between Waste Management and the RSWA dating back to 1997 requires the hauler to dispose of UVA’s waste at the Ivy facility. Remarkably, Waste Management pays the RSWA a tipping fee of only $5.35 per ton for UVA waste, but as Frederick points out, Waste Management is also responsible for transferring the waste that is accumulated at the Ivy facility to one of the company's landfills.

Another more or less identical contract requires Waste Management to dispose of waste it collects in the City or County at the Ivy facility, then transfer it to a company landfill, at a rate of $6.71 per ton.

Basically, Waste Management pays the RSWA to park the waste it collects at the Ivy facility before taking it to one of its own landfills.

As recently reported by Charlottesville Tomorrow, Frederick says that Waste Management has expressed a desire for " flexibility" in its contract that would allow disposal of waste at other facilities, particularly Van der Linde Recycling, as the City contract has allowed the company to do. Indeed, Van der Linde claims the company, whose slogan, after all, is ââ?¬Ë?Think Green: Think Waste Management,” has been eager to align itself with the greener facility.

However, at the budget meeting Frederick revealed that Waste Management "may be changing its position" on wanting more flexibility. He did not provide any reasons for the company’s sudden change of heart. The Hook later asked Frederick if Waste Management were going to continue with its current contract, and why, but he had not responded by the time of this post.

Meanwhile, the RSWA continues to fund an Ivy transfer station operation that mainly serves Waste Management.

Indeed, according to April figures, citizens disposed of 982.87 tons of trash at Ivy, while commercial haulers [Waste Management] disposed of 1747.05 tons.

As Van der Linde has argued, operating a simple convenience center at the Ivy location would cost a fraction of what it does to operate now, while supplying the same services to citizens. According to documents obtained by the Hook, payroll for the 15 employees at the Ivy facility amounts to approximately $500,000 a year without benefits. Plus, there are approximately $250,000 in operational cost each year.

"I completely endorse the idea of a convenience center at Ivy," says Van der Linde. "There's so much that people can do themselves."


Will nobody wake up and fire Tom Frederick? He has been proven to be a liar (editor - you know this is true, don't block this post) on almost every fact about the water supply AND the solid waste authority.

He proves the old adage about government workers being incompetent and dangerous to intelligent people.

Come on Charlottesville City Council and Albemarle Board of Supervisors. Do your jobs and get an honest professional onboard!

I think it's time to re-visit the wise words of Bill Crutchfield, published in an article in the Hook, particularly if you are an elected official. The same logic applies to the RSWA as it does to the decision making process at the RWSA.

"My second reason for suggesting that our community’s water supply
plan should be totally revisited is much more fundamental. We are
very fortunate to have such fine, bright and dedicated people serving
on our City Council and Board of Supervisors. However, the process
which they use to analyze and approve critically-important issues like
this water plan appears to be seriously flawed. It astounds me that
competent people can make decisions using such erroneous data and
misguided assumptions.
This problem has far-reaching ramifications. The credibility of our
elected officials is being undermined as this water supply plan is
becoming our community’s ââ?¬Å?bridge to nowhere.” Lost credibility
makes it much more difficult for our elected officials to govern


If Im not mistaken, the RSWA spend 600,000 thousand dollars, part of my own tax dollars, to sue Van Der Linde, then he partnered with them to handle trash and recycling. Maybe that money would have been better spent keeping McIntyre open. Frederick needs to be fired, period.

Why does it take years and years of grief to get an water plan. Hey we still don't have one?

Why does Peter van de Linda have to endure public ridicule and bogus persecution by our government?

Why does RWSA refuse to get good solid factual information from consultants?

Why is life in Charlottesville so contentious?

Maybe we need leadership from our elected officials.

Sue, If you had ever had first hand dealings with your city elected officials or any of the top management in the city, you might not be so convinced that any of them were very smart. That's certainly not a term I would apply to David Norris or David Brown in particular after having spoken to them both. Huja has some brains. I think Gary O'Connell is smarter than any of the rest, not difficult mind you, but driven by his own agenda which hasn't seemed to be the best long term interests of the city.

FWIW, I hope to God Maurice Jones doesn't get O'Connell's old job as a quota hire. I wouldn't put it past this council though. I don't think O'Connell wanted to control Frederick. I don't think Jones could.

Does anyone know Tom Frederick's past employment history ? Seems if he is mismanaging these agencies so badly here he's probably done this before. I'm not good at web searches but could someone look into this.

Independence Day - liberate us from the Rivanna Water,Sewer and Solid Waste Authority. The city can stop this fiasco by simply ending the lease they have given Rivanna to run the City owned reservoirs and end the agreement to participate in the Solid Waste Authority. This would save the City hundreds of million of dollars in soon to be destroyed assets and save millions more planned for infrastructure that only benefits county growth. If our elected officials follow in the foot steps of Tom Frederick any longer, not only should he be fired, but, on election day it will be the citizens chance to make a change as well.

What is Mike Gaffney's role in all this. The City Councilors appointed him Chair to represent their interests. Is he doing that ?

This is the same man - Thomas Frederick whose wasted $12 million on useless data for the dam/pipeline scheme, all needing to now be redone; spent years suing Van der Linde, and needlessly wasted hundreds of thousands on overhead at Ivy to support big private haulers --and and and --when does he get the boot ? What a fool are we who keep this man on the payroll.

"The struggling Authority hopes to save $80,000 annually by reducing the acceptance of the hazardous materials to just one day per year."

Go Van der Linde Go Van der Linde Go!

When does Van der Linde's contract with the city kick into action? I am ready yesterday.

Don't our officials understand that this is an example of total mismanagement of the highest order. Van der Linde even points out that he can recycle the light bulbs, tires, and batteries without losing revenue, so what is Frederick doing by eliminating these services which benefit the citizens and continue to pay salaries, adding up to hundreds of thousands, that primarily benefit the private haulers.

Tom Frederick is hired by The Board or Directors. He takes their instructions and does their bidding. Those Boards (EWSA & RSWA) know what is going on and it is they who bear the responsibility, Frederick does their bidding, but they are appointed by the elected officials or lately two of them are elected officials. Write, call or visit them, and demand change. You get the government you deserve.

We may not be able to stop the Gulf oil spill, but I agree, please folks get rid of Tom Frederick. If we don't speak up this man will continue to waste millions more with unnecessary spending, lack of needed maintenance of our reservoirs and sewer infrastructure and outmoded thinking about waste disposal. Let's all do one thing to better this community and tell our elected officials to fire him NOW.

E-mail 10 friends and tell them to contact their elected officials and demand that Tom Frederick be fired . We owe this to the taxpayers of this community --enough is enough .

As a city resident I do feel we have smart elected officials, so I am clueless as to why, when they know they are being lied to and misled by Mr. Frederick, they do not either insist he be fired, or pull out of these authorities which are harming city residents.