Recycling Expanded at Ivy MUC; New Plastic Restrictions

New rules for plastics recycling at the McIntire Recycling Center in Charlottesville. Photo: Lisa Martin.

On August 21 the Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority (RSWA) to proceed with an expanded and updated recycling convenience center at the Ivy Material Utilization Center (formerly the Ivy Landfill). The board appropriated $350,000 for the convenience center’s design and construction last year, and the RSWA’s board has confirmed the agreement as well, clearing the way for the project.

New rules for plastics recycling at the McIntire Recycling Center in Charlottesville. Photo: Lisa Martin.

Phil McKalips, director of solid waste for the RSWA, said, “Our plan is to have the facility built and operating by the end of the fiscal year, in June 2020 or earlier.” Conceptual designs for the re-do include more than a dozen parking spaces and a 10-foot-wide pedestrian walkway running between recycling containers set on either side of the path. The center will continue to recycle all current materials, including mixed paper, metals, glass, antifreeze, motor oil, and compost, and will also begin accepting plastic containers and films recycling when the new facility opens.

New rules for plastics recycling at the McIntire Recycling Center in Charlottesville. Photo: Lisa Martin.

Regarding plastics recycling, new rules went into effect July 1 limiting the types of plastics that will be accepted at the McIntire Recycling site in Charlottesville (and eventually at the Ivy MUC as well). Only #1 and #2 plastic bottles and containers will be accepted, which includes most milk, juice, and water bottles and some sturdier containers such as laundry detergent jugs. Only #2 and #4 plastic film-type bags will be accepted, which includes regular grocery bags and smaller grocery fruit and vegetable bags, as well as newspaper delivery sleeves. Be sure to check for the recycling symbols on items, and plan ahead—at the McIntire Center the #1 and #2 plastics now go in separate bins. The McIntire site is giving away free decals to help citizens sort properly at home (while supplies last).

The burned-out tractor trailer from an August 22 fire at the Ivy MUC. Photo: Lisa Martin.

In other Ivy MUC news, an overnight fire in a tractor trailer on August 22 briefly closed the refuse transfer building to trash collection as investigators checked the building for damage. (The recycling convenience center remained open.) 

“We have no idea what caused it, though it appears to me at least to have been something that came into the facility in the trash,” said McKalips. “Historically, embers in people’s charcoal were a problem, although now it seems that lithium batteries are being suspected more and more. I doubt we’ll ever know.” Lithium batteries, which are found in laptops, cameras, and cell phones, can short out when damaged and the spark can ignite the lithium, or the batteries can overheat to the point of exploding. 

Smoke damage to the facility’s walls may be power-washed, but other repairs depend upon the results of an engineering inspection. “Once the structural engineer provides his findings, we can develop a plan for getting back into the building and starting repairs and restoration work,” said McKalips. 

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Lisa Martin joined the Gazette in 2017 and writes about education and local government. She also writes in-depth pieces about division-wide education issues and broader investigative pieces on topics from recycling to development to living with wildlife. Her Coyotes in Crozet story won a 2017 Virginia Press Association “Best in Show” award for the Gazette. Martin has a Ph.D. from the University of Texas, taught college for several years, and writes fiction and poetry. She co-authored a children’s trilogy about two adventuring cats, the Anton and Cecil series, which got rave reviews from the New York Times Book Review, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly and others.


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