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Let's talk trash: City streamlining recycling
Sorting recyclables no longer necessary in Fredericksburg

 Fredericksburg recycling crew member Joeann Fleming collects recyclables in a single stream--no sorting required--along Bakersfield Lane in the Bragg Hill area of the city.
PETER CIHELKA/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 11/1/2009

BY EMILY BATTLE

If you live in Fredericksburg, you'll soon see your recyclables dumped into what looks like a plain old garbage truck.

That doesn't mean they're headed for the landfill, though.

Sorting cans from bottles from newspapers used to be an enterprise that took up rows of plastic bins in many households.

These days, though, a lot of sorting is done on giant conveyor belts by the companies that purchase municipal recyclable goods.

The Rappahannock Regional Solid Waste Management Board--known as the "R-Board"--has been collecting recyclables in a single stream since August 2008, according to regional landfill superintendent Andrew Mikel.

The R-Board serves Fredericksburg and Stafford County. Private haulers that use the regional landfill have been collecting single-stream recyclables since August 2008, but the city has been slower to adopt the new process because it needed a new truck to make the switch.

The money for a new $115,000 compactor truck came from the R-Board. Some of it was a dividend from the methane gas operation the regional landfill recently started.

The compactor truck will allow the city to take its two curbside sorter trucks off the street. One is so old it needs to be taken out of service, anyway, and Public Works Director Doug Fawcett said the city would look at what to do with the other one.

The truck looks like a regular garbage truck. The city has used cleaned-out garbage trucks to pick up recycling in recent months when its old recycling truck has been in the shop.

The garbage truck always sparked a few calls from residents wondering whether their recycling efforts were a waste of time.

To try to avoid confusion, this new garbage truck has a giant logo on it with the word "recycling" written in big letters.

"We want to make it very obvious to folks that when we pick up the recyclables and put them in this truck, it's not just going into the trash truck," Fawcett said.

Mikel said the single-stream collection has allowed the regional landfill to increase the amount of material it recycles, and to escape some of the market declines that have made recycling hard for other localities in recent months.


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Single-stream recycling does not change what is accepted in the city's curbside recycling collection and at convenience sites in the city and Stafford County. For a full list of what is accepted, visit the R-Board's Web site at r-board.org.

Stafford and Spotsylvania counties do not offer government-run curbside recycling. County residents should contact the private haulers who perform this service in their neighborhoods to ask whether they need to sort recyclables.