GIMME SHELTER- Recycling rules: Sort paper for faster flow

Richard Lynch
Recycling Technicion, McIntire Road Recycling Center

Q: I want to start dropping off my recycling again. Where do I go? Do I still need to separate types of glass? Any tips on being a more efficient recycler? And where does the recycling go?

A: There are two recycling facilities in town, one on McIntire Road next to the Lane baseball feild, and one at UVA on McCormick Road. 

And no, you no longer need to separate types of glass. There's just no local market for glass anymore. It all just gets sent out to the landfill to be ground up to make roadway. 

Our metal and plastic goes to Coiners, a local salvage yard, and our newspaper goes to a facility in Richmond that turns it into cardboard, like you find on the back of legal pads. File stock is made into things like writing paper and tissue; brown paper is generally converted into paper grocery bags, and corrugated cardboard is turned into more corrugated cardboard.

Most people are conscientious about how they drop off their recycling, but I'd say about 15 to 20 percent of the people who come through here each week– and that's 4,500 to 5,000 cars!– tend to use the McIntire Road facility as a "trash dump." When everything gets mixed together, it's more difficult to get efficiently recycled. 

For example, when people throw newspaper and magazines into the file stock bin along with their junk mail and other office papers, it's worth a lot less to recycling processors. We also don't take plastic bags, but people still tend to throw them in the bins. People need to take the time to sort properly.

Since the McIntire facility is so small, it's a good idea for people to save their recycling for Tuesdays and Thursdays. Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays aren't as good because that's when the big trucks come in and switch bins. 

It's also a good idea to come in early in the morning– like 7:30 or 8am. At this time of year, with the recent time change, 5pm is less busy. The worst time? Sunday. We're only open from 12:30pm to 5:20pm, but it gets real busy. 

People shouldn't forget about our book and magazine exchange. We have a little library where you can bring a few books and magazines in and take a few out. Who knows? You might even get lucky. A few years ago, someone found a book signed by James Joyce in there!

Richard Lynch