Recycled remedy: Will Ivy 'transfer' to Van der Linde?

Four years after Albemarle County supervisors stood behind the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority's RICO lawsuit against recycling entrepreneur Peter Van der Linde, claiming he had defrauded tax payers in Mafia-style fashion, they are now contemplating a "can't refuse" offer from the man. And while the city has contracted with Van der Linde for several years, so far, the county has stubbornly refused to embrace the trash and recycling technology of the man they once tried to punish.

Van der Linde’s successful Materials Recovery Facility [or "MURF" for short] in Zion Crossroads, which is permitted by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to process commingled recyclables, construction and demolition debris, and household waste for recycling, has transformed the local trash business, allowing haulers to offer "single-stream, all-in-one" trash collection. What's more, Van der Linde's tipping fees are lower at $52 per ton, compared to the $66 per ton the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority charges.

Back in 2010, the city saw the writing on the wall, dropped its contract with the RSWA, and contracted with Van der Linde to have curbside trash hauled by Waste Management to his facility. But the county, given the sticky legal history, perhaps, has been slow to embrace Van der Linde as a partner, preferring instead to stick with the RSWA, which operates both the Ivy Materials Utilization Center and the McIntire Recycling Center.

However, some big changes at Ivy may force the county's hand. Corporate hauler Waste Management, Ivy's

biggest customer, declined to renew its contract with the RSWA, and will stop hauling trash there at the end of June. Meanwhile, RSWA director Tom Frederick has been busy trying to secure continued funding from Albemarle County for Ivy's trash collecting operations. Over the years, he has argued that government support and higher tipping fees are needed to support Ivy, as well as the McIntire Recycling Center, and to fund hazardous waste collection, amnesty days, and other "special services" the RSWA provides.

But with Waste Management's withdrawal, that may be hard to justify. As Frederick himself explained to the RSWA board earlier this year, two-thirds of the trash coming into Ivy is hauled there by Waste Management, which, in not-so environmentally friendly fashion, then hauls it from Ivy to a company-owned landfill in Kent County.

What's more, on June 20, Van der Linde responded to a county RFP for trash and recycling services, and made an argument that's hard to refuse.

"We made a solid presentation," says Van der Linde, "basically offering to provide all the existing services plus adding some new ones, and doing so at no cost to the county."

Indeed, Van der Linde, whose operation makes money on the trash and recycling it collects, would basically operate the Ivy location and the McIntire Recycling Center as transfer stations for free.

The county's contract with the RSWA, which provides funding for both the Ivy Transfer station and the McIntire Recycling Center, was set to expire at the end of June, but the BOS voted on June 5 to approve a six-month extension of the contract, which will cost tax payers about $200,000 through the end of the year.

"Continuing with RWSA is still an option," says county Supe Dennis Rooker. "But we are exploring the options. Approving the extension continues the status quo while the RFP process goes forward."

Meanwhile, Van der Linde, who has been offering informally to take over the Ivy and McItire operations for over four years, has made his state-of-art facility even more so.

Recently, he took delivery of a new $2.5 million household trash separator. While the facility already has a machine that separates recycling and construction debris and has been extracting recycling from household trash as well as by hand, the new machine uses optics, magnets, forced air dryers, bag-breaking machines, and an assortment of other machines along a conveyor to extract clean recyclables from the household waste stream. Van der Linde says the system has already been approved by the DEQ, and that it should be set up and ready to operate in about three months.

But Van der Linde says he's not going to stop there. While much of the residual material from household trash goes to a waste-to-energy facility at James Madison University, Van der Linde says he's seriously hoping to install an "anaerobic digestion system" that converts that residual into compressed natural gas and an organic soil additive.

"Pretty exciting stuff," he says.

Critics of Van der Linde's facility argue that too much potential recycling gets contaminated when everything is thrown into one trash bin and then thrown into his machines. Indeed, Allied Waste, which is owned by mega-waste company Republic Services, has been surviving locally on its "separate, don't contaminate" ad campaign, claiming that single-stream recycling gets contaminated. Allied Waste offers a dual bin system: put the messy household trash in one and the bottles and cans in the other. The latter's contents get hauled to a small transfer station in Zion Crossroads (which happens to be right beside Van der Linde's facility) and then to a facility like Van der Linde's in Tidewater 90 miles away.

Van der Linde acknowledges that there is some contamination when you throw everything in one bin (that's why the city still offers curbside recycling, along with its all-in-one service courtesy of Van der Linde), but the sheer volume of clean recyclables he is extracting from the waste stream offsets that, he says. Plus, he says, the technology and the systems are getting better, and the percentage of recyclables that get contaminated is decreasing. What's more, he claims that markets are opening up for the materials that facilities like his are extracting, from the lime inside wallboard to the fibers in mattresses.

"I'm all for people separating their recycling if they want to," says Van der Linde, "but we can't continue to count on that alone, not with the volume of trash we produce. This, like it or not, is the future of recycling."


I look forward to seeing the new system close-up in operation as many folks are interested. As a candidate for County Supervisor (the appointed position), I believe it's very important that we seek transparency of the highest order in making these important solid waste & recycling decisions.

Is anyone surprised that a "for profit" person can beat the crap out of government services? Of course he does not have to give 129 holidays, and a month paid vacation and allow his staff to stop answering the phones so they can race out the door at 4:49PM while they take 9 tea breaks per day...

You put on some Ozzy Osbourne glasses and you think we won't know you're really Julian Assange incognito?

Hey, Dave. Why don't follow some of Van der Linde's trash trailers and see how many he sends to a landfill every day? Or would that be too much like real journalism instead of paid advertising?

I cant believe this guy continues to be put on a pedastal. His business is not what he says it is, his recycling rates are not what he says they are and his "preferred haulers" list are comprised of haulers that mis-use the term Single Stream Recycling. When are people going to "get it"? Trash and Recycling Dont Mix!! There are no "magic machines" that can recover recycleables as good as seperating them. If "mixed-waste recycling" is the wave of the future, which by the way is not that new of a technology, then why isnt the rest of the country using it?

Yeah and why isnt the county taking him up on his offer to service them for free....oh wait, maybe because nothing is "free"!

And thank you Ryan for stating the truth....

Does this mean that Waste Management is pretty much gone from serving the area!? We certainly hope so! We believe there was a newspaper article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch stating that they run a landfill in Eastern Henrico County which has been approved for expansion. We are guessing they have other bigger fish to fry? We are glad. Hopefully, we will not have to see or hear their very large, very noisy, speeding trucks running up and down Route 250 in Fluvanna County to go to and from the facilities at Zion! Next on the list is BFI/Allied Waste/Republic Services. We can only hope the City will jump on Mr. Van der Linde's band wagon and let the small, private person take care of the City's trash and recycling needs because Republic drivers speed, get right up on your bumper when turning, and do not care about residents along Route 250. Plus, they are the highest priced residential trash pick up service in the area. Numerous neighbors and other folks we have spoken to have told us this fact. We also hope Albemarle County takes Mr. Van der Linde up on his offer! He cares about the citizens who live and travel along Route 250 and his trucks run I-64 at Zion exclusively not Route 250 then get onto I-64 at Boyds Tavern. He knows that Route 250 is dangerous and has narrow shoulders for pull off and very limited places to pull off. We have spoken to him and he seems to be a caring, genuine person. Then, hopefully, RSWA will disban because they are no longer needed. Let the private sector take care of everything!

while mixed waste recycling may not be the 'best' method when compared to keeping everything seperate, let's be honest, people are lazy. and 90% of people single streaming for mixed waste recycling is far better than 50% of people keeping waste/recycling separate and 50% of people not recycling at all. obviously i just made up the numbers, but ultimately my point is more people will recycle the easier the method is. far from perfect, but the 'idealists' just need to wake up and take what they can get.

Everyone needs to be better informed before assuming a "dirty MRF" like VdL's (the term is MRF not MURF) is the answer to our local waste problems.
Recyclables must be very clean to find a market. If they are too contaminated, there are no buyers, so the "recycling" goes to the landfill, or to JMU to be incinerated. Neither of these is a good option in the long run, because we are burying or burning up useful resources and adding pollutants to the environment, behaviors that will come back to bite us.
The future of waste handling is not mixing it all up together and having machinery salvage some mediocre amount. The future is source separation, which maximizes valuable material streams.
Most people in this area don't know better, and they are being duped about "saving the Earth" when they dump everything in one bin together, or when they read in The Hook that VdL's MRF provides the "remedy" to our trash-making.
VdL makes money no matter what they do with the garbage they collect, but there should be third party verification that high percentages of recyclables are actually being recycled after processing at VdL.
Progressive communities are achieving 80% or more waste diversion from landfill by producing clean waste streams through source separation. There's no reason Charlottesville/Albemarle can't achieve that level too, if provided correct information and means.

Point of clarification: There is no Kent County, Virginia. Do you mean New Kent County? or, is it Amelia County, where Waste Management owns and operates a landfill?

Anne, I think the landfill they are referring to is actually in Charles City County, which is the poor neighbor to New Kent. That's why they built the landfill - to make money for a poor county.

Yes. I agree w/ sustyfan. I visit the McIntire Recycyling Center frequently, and it is never slow.
If C-ville and Alb. Co. would just make recycling a priority, and provide citizens the means with which to recycle, they would achieve amazing results. The fact is they don't provide anything.... and so a lot of people do nothing. But there are always a TON of people at the McIntire Recycling Center, which means that there are still people willing to put in the time and effort. It's not that hard. And I know a ton of people who would do more if it were simply made easier for them - as in more convenient recycling centers and/or recycling bins delivered to the homes that were ACTUAlLLY and really recycled properly and not just dumped in with the regular trash.

I love the McIntire recycling center. I fire up the Volvo & drive in from Troy every day to bring by some string and old papers. Love to stand around and talk with friends while our cars sit & idle.