- The Washington Times - Friday, May 9, 2003


   RICHMOND (AP) — Gerald Vincent brought his interest in recycling to Brunswick County government when he became county administrator several years ago.
   But he says the county still has a long way to go.
   “We’re less than 2 percent, but there are a lot of [localities] about the same,” Mr. Vincent said. “Everybody’s trying.”
   Since 1989, recycling has been mandatory in Virginia. The General Assembly set the rate at 25 percent of a locality’s solid waste. But if localities don’t reach that goal, there’s no punishment. Localities also are only as motivated as their resources, finances and interests allow.
   While recycling is on an upswing in general, recycling rates in rural areas usually fall below those of urban localities, said Bill Hayden, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
   Rural communities struggle largely because they lack infrastructure, finances and manpower to make recycling easy on households.
   “For rural localities that don’t have the designated departments for this, it’s pretty much up to the county administrator.” Mr. Vincent said. In Brunswick, a volunteer litter-control coordinator organizes roadside litter-pickup efforts and distributes recycling literature to schools.
   Often rural areas don’t have the convenience of curbside collection so residents must lug recyclable materials to drop-off sites, said Kelley Bartell of the Richmond area’s Central Virginia Waste Management Authority.
   The authority, which has 49 collection sites and offers recycling services to 13 localities around and including Richmond, Petersburg and Colonial Heights, has curbside collections for aluminum cans, aluminum foil, glass bottles, mixed paper, newspaper and steel cans. It also has programs to collect appliances, batteries, old tires and scrap metal.
   Brunswick has seven convenience centers throughout the county where garbage and recyclable materials — magazines and newspapers — are collected. Mr. Vincent said the county plans to build five more within the next three years.
   While Brunswick’s recycling rate is low, Mr. Vincent remains confident about what the county can do.
   He said figures for 2002 indicate the county’s recycling rate jumped to about 55 percent, but that was mostly wood from the local logging industry. If that were not included, the rate probably would be about 10 percent, Mr. Vincent said. He attributed the increase from the 2001 rate of less than 2 percent, in part, to a letter he sent to businesses. He found that more businesses were recycling than were being reported.
   About 7,000 people live in Bland County, where the recycling rate for 2001 was 25 percent. Curbside collection is offered, but only once a month, said Rodney Ratliff, the county’s director of public works.
   The county collects aluminum, cardboard, paper and plastic, but not glass or tires, Mr. Ratliff said. It also collects “white goods,” such as dryers, washers and refrigerators, but does not get credit for them in its rate, he said.
   The Department of Environmental Quality encourages litter-prevention and recycling efforts by supplying funding from the Virginia “litter taxes” for various projects. There are noncompetitive grants for litter prevention, and expansion of or continuation of recycling efforts.
   The agency also makes funds available to nonprofit entities through a competitive grant program for the development and implementation of statewide and regional litter-prevention and recycling-education programs.
   The state keeps track of how well localities do in recycling, Mr. Hayden said, and it helps them exchange ideas that could be helpful.
   County officials say the key is educating the public about the need and routine of recycling.
   

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