CVWMA Needs You to Recycle Right

Recycling the wrong items can have terrible consequences. Someone apparently tossed a lithium battery into a recycling container. The discarded battery caused a fire in this truck.


The CVWMA (Central Virginia Waste Management Authority) recycling containers are for recyclable items only.  Placing inappropriate items, such as plastic bags or food-contaminated containers, with appropriate recyclables create additional processing and disposal costs.

Place only loose acceptable items in the recycling container.  Do not bag your recycling in plastic bags.  Anything in a plastic bag will not be recycled.   CVWMA’s recycling vendors will no longer pick up unwanted items.  To avoid this, visit and make sure you Recycle Right.

This is more important now than ever.   Nearly all of the paper and cardboard collected in Central Virginia for recycling was marketed to paper mills in China.  China was the largest importer of recyclable material in the world until recently when they stopped allowing certain commodities such as mixed paper into the country because of poor quality.   The Chinese are tired of buying poor quality feedstock for their mills.

The continued success of recycling programs, locally and globally, is dependent on economically feasible end markets.  In the past, revenue generated from the sale of recyclables had covered labor and equipment necessary to sort, bale and transport the commodities to respective markets.

“Nearly all of the paper and cardboard collected in CVWMA residential recycling programs was marketed to Chinese mills because of the high demand,” says Kim Hynes, executive director of CVWMA.     “Other buyers such as Vietnam, India and Korea and domestic mills are now flooded with scrap paper and are becoming pickier than ever on accepting the material.”

CVWMA collaborates with 13 local governments in Central Virginia and provides residential recycling to 275,000 households in nine jurisdictions and also provides recycling opportunities at 35 drop-off locations for cardboard, paper, cans, bottles, cartons and other plastic containers.

This situation with China and the recycling markets has created a disruption in the industry, the reality of which will reveal the true costs of recycling, particularly as markets fluctuate and local processors seek new outlets to sell collected commodities.

“You can always find a market for a quality product,” says Lori Scozzafava, senior vice president of Gershman, Brickner & Bratton Inc., a national solid waste consulting company.  “China doesn’t want poor quality feedstock materials and neither do we.”

Adjusting to this new normal will require people to change their approach to recycling.  “In the short term, we need to prioritize education, update technology in MRFs, identify new markets for materials and be more transparent about costs associated with recycling as well as the revenue that’s generated from the sale of recyclable material,” says David Biderman, executive director and CEO of Solid Waste Association of North America.

CVWMA is taking immediate steps to educate and inform central Virginians on the impact our actions have on the continued success of our recycling programs.   Whether your recyclables are picked up from your home, or whether you drive them to a drop-off site, recycle only loose acceptable items and do not bag your recyclables in plastic bags.

For additional information, call CVWMA at (804) 340-0900  or visit You can also find CVWMA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About CharlesM 290 Articles
North of the James, is an award-winning general interest publication with a regional focus that has been serving the region for over 20 years. North of the James presents business profiles, book and restaurant reviews, a calendar of events, and much more

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