According to Town Manager Barry Thompson, the Town of Vinton established the first curbside recycling program in the state of Virginia, beginning as a pilot program in January 1989.
Recyclables are collected every other week in Vinton by Public Works employees Charles Barber and A.J. Kingery. The town makes it simple to remember which week is a recycling week by the reminder icons on the town calendar.
Each Vinton household receives a blue recycling bin at no charge, which they are asked to place at the curb by 7 a.m. on the same day that their household refuse is collected. The recycling containers are town property and are to be left behind if the resident moves. New citizens may call Public Works for a recycling bin and will receive a copy of the town calendar at the same time.
The town accepts aluminum (usually beverage cans), newspapers and inserts, plastic beverage containers (soft drink bottles, clear water bottles, juice containers, and opaque milk jugs), and steel/tin– generally food cans. The crew encourages residents to rinse out the cans and remove labels. They appreciate items being separated by categories when possible.
They do not accept magazines or phone books or glass. Residents can dispose of glass bottles and jars (green, brown, and clear) themselves at Recycling and Disposal Solutions (RDS) located at 7704 East Enon Drive in Roanoke.
In addition to items placed in the recycling bins, the recycling crew will accept clear or white garbage bags– which are easy to see into to determine the contents– filled with aluminum cans, plastic jugs, or newspapers.
The recycling crew operates a truck pulling a trailer with separate compartments for newspapers/cardboard and plastics/metal. They place the large refuse bags they pick up in the bed of the collection truck.
Any items that are not acceptable are simply left behind in the recycle bin for the resident to dispose of. Barber says that most residents who care enough to recycle, generally go the extra step and “do it right,” separating items and rinsing out those containers that need it.
“This year the town’s recycling rate was 53.7 percent,” said Thompson. “Each year we have to send a Recycling Report to the state; it is reviewed and accepted by the Department of Environmental Quality which determines Vinton’s recycling rate. This Recycling Report is a huge project and I appreciate the work of the recycling crew and Jill Acker and Bonnie Stevens, who call the town businesses and gather the information necessary for the report annually.”
“The town transports the recycling that we collect curbside to RDS,” said Public Works Director Joey Hiner. “For the plastic material and metal cans the town is charged $27.50 per ton; currently the town is not charged for the paper. On an average recycling day, we collect over one-half ton of material.”
A recycling service partnership at Lake Drive Plaza between Kroger and Lake Drive Plaza Management was discontinued several months ago.
As an added service, the Town of Vinton will pick up tires for recycling from residents on a quarterly basis (in February, May, August, and November) at no charge for four tires in a year’s time. The schedule for tire collection is also indicated on the town calendar and town website.
Assistant Public Works Director Bo Herndon says that generally they collect 50-60 tires total each collection period. The next tire collection dates are November 13 and 14. The tires are delivered to the Roanoke Valley Resource Authority transfer station on Hollins Road where they are hauled away for recycling for various purposes.
Barber says that there are several ways that residents can contribute to the efficiency of the recycling process. One of the main ones is rinsing out containers— especially milk and juice jugs. Left unwashed the contents tend to spoil, attract insects, and encourage the growth of bacteria, in addition to being malodorous.
“Remnants of food and other waste do not work well with the recycling process,” noted Hiner.
The crew also asks that there be no food residue in cardboard boxes put out for recycling— no leftover chicken or pizza. Once again, they usually communicate with the resident by leaving the items behind in the bin. It is most helpful if all cardboard boxes are broken down for recycling.
They ask that no hazardous or corrosive substances or batteries be discarded in recycling bins.
Barber has been with the town for over 12 years; Kingery not yet two years. On the weeks that they are not collecting recyclables, the two usually do sign work on the numerous signs in town— metal and wooden— painting or replacing as needed. Sometimes they assist other Public Works crews when needed.
Barber and Herndon say that use of the recycling program in Vinton is steadily growing. They usually hand out from two to four new bins requested each month. They encourage residents to recycle when at all possible, rather than discard recyclables in the regular refuse pick-up.
The crew is “impressed with the number of citizens who take pride in recycling and contributing to preserving the environment.”
They usually collect 400-700 pounds of metals, plastics, and paper each trip with two trips per day to RDS.
Barber says that Vinton has lots of great and progressive services–recycling is just one of them. Vinton Public Works is noted for its snow removal efforts and leaf collection will be coming up soon, with notification on the town website.
Many town employees are also residents of the town and take pride in the community where they live and work.
“Public Works and the other departments give great quality services to the residents,” said Barber. “We give a little bit more in Vinton.”
“Through this program, the town shows its commitment to being stewards of the environment as well as being an example to the rest of the valley,” noted Hiner. “This reduces the amount of waste going to the landfill and is also financially beneficial as the cost is lower to take to be recycled.
“We would like more residents to get involved in the curbside recycling collection program,” Hiner said.
“We are very proud of the curbside recycling program in the Town of Vinton and the crew does an excellent job in providing this service to our residents,” said Thompson.