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ONARCHITECTURE- Single-streamin': Why not try private sector recycling machine?

Published July 17, 2008 in issue 0729 of the Hook
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"Help is on the way, help that's really going to work," says Peter van der Linde, whose $11 million recycling facility should be operational in 60 to 90 days.
Developer and entrepreneur Peter van der Linde has a proposal that could save the City and the County millions and make recycling "everything on the planet except food waste" as easy as tossing it into a trash bin. The problem is, no body appears to be listening. 

In the Rivanna Sewer and Water Authority's ongoing strategic plan to improve waste management and recycling services, one idea under review is the feasibility of building a $7 to $10 million Materials Recycling Facility (MRF). However, as previously reported in the Hook ["Coming soon! van der Linde's amazing recycling machine," February 14], van der Linde already has one-- an $11-million, 100,000-square-foot recycling center near Zion Crossroads that includes a 270-foot state-of-the-art sorting machine, that he now hopes will be operational in 60 to 90 days.  

Last December, van der Linde says he contacted RSWA director Tom Frederick and RSWA board chair Mike Gaffney-- the two who are also leading the community into a controversial $143 million water project-- to explain his services. Van der Linde, who already owns a container rental business, says he offered to rent his containers to the RSWA for free and process recyclables for "half the price that the RSWA says it could do it for."

While the RSWA projects a recycling rate of $100 per ton at its facility, van der Linde says his rate will be $49 per ton. (RSWA charges $66/ton to accept garbage.) Moreover, van der Linde says his facility will be capable of processing 340,000 tons of recyclables a year, while the RSWA's proposed facility would only process 25,000 tons annually. According to its own documents, RSWA is aiming for a recycling recovery rate (the amount of material that will actually be recycled) of 51 percent, but van der Linde says his facility will be LEED certified and have a 90 percent recovery rate. Finally, the RSWA says it could be years before a facility like this could be built, at taxpayer expense, while van der Linde's is nearly complete and ready to roll. 

Van der Linde says he has yet to receive a response from RSWA officials, but he has had some interest from the City. 

"He's talked with our public utilities manager but hasn't provided any formal proposal," says city spokesperson Ric Barrick. "We're certainly interested in finding out more about his plans."

As for the County, spokesperson Lee Catlin says it has been holding off on any decisions about committing to a future recycling program (she had no knowledge of van der Linde's proposal) until the RSWA completes its strategic plan-- "so that we can make sure our efforts are coordinated with RSWA's future approach," she says. 

Calls to recycling operations manager Bruce Edmonds were directed to Frederick, who says that it's too early in the RSWA's study to make a decision on the private sector machine.

Undeterred, van der Linde now says he's prepared to offer individual neighborhoods, schools, and other municipalities the same deal he offered the RSWA. For example, his container company would supply a neighborhood association with a permanent large container like the ones common on construction sites for free (neighbors would decide where to put it-- perhaps on some municipal property, he suggests), and charge only a standard transportation and tonnage fee. 

Unlike the City's curbside recycling program, or the popular recycling center on McIntire Road, which still requires donors to separate recyclables and takes only certain ones, literally everything but food waste can be tossed into van der Linde's containers, and they would be conveniently located nearby.

"Not only are we going to be separating materials," he explains, "but we're going to be preparing the materials for re-use."

This is where he hopes his gamble will pay off-- in the emerging market for recyclables.

"All the recyclables that go into the facility will leave already processed," he says. "This stuff will basically go out the door gift-wrapped."

For example, a concrete and rock crusher rigged with a magnet can sort though construction debris, removing rebar and other metals, and leave it ready to be used as fill. The same goes for cardboard, paper, plastic, cement, carpet (including pad), glass, metals, brick, yard waste, wood, drywall, asphalt, styrofoam, and nearly everything else imaginable, which will all be prepared on site for re-use. (Anything intact, he says, will be sent to Habitat for Humanity.)

Van der Linde says he's come to the conclusion that source-separated recycling systems are inherently flawed because they're too complicated and labor-intensive. "People need to be real green to make it work on a large scale," he says.

In 2003, the County stopped its curbside recycling service for everything but newspapers because it had become too expensive. In its absence, the RSWA published a guide directing folks to drop various materials at different facilities-- some of which can be dropped off only at certain times. The recycling guide is three single-spaced pages long. Meanwhile, the RSWA's strategic plan continues to analyze what one man may have already figured out.

"Participation in single-stream recycling skyrockets when it's put in place," says van der Linde. "Simply stated, I do the grunt work, and the public gets the glory. We can all be recycling evangelists when it's made this cheap and easy." 



Cville Eye7/17/2008 11:16:05 PM

If van der Linde is not in the ineer circle he can forget it. Maybe he should become palsy with TNC and PEC. Since they are leading the charge to provide Albemarle 30,000 acres in some type of non-developable land use by 2010, according to this year's budget documentation, they will continue to be in controll of the RWSA. The city and county do not dare do anything to distress their gift-horses. That's why the new reservoir will be in the growth area and the land around SFRR and Sugar Hollow will probably end up in a conservation district. As many have said, follow the money. Now, if van der Linde was offering kick-backs...

Sville Eye7/19/2008 10:28:10 AM

I tip my hat to Mr. van der Linde. It seems that the RSWA is more interested in perpetuating its self and not working form the betterment of the community and the environment. The RSWA recycling person knows of van der Linde's project, so why has he not responded?

For clarification:

RSWA - Rivanna Solid Waste Authority

RWSA - Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority

Dave C7/20/2008 2:53:53 PM

Recall the lawsuit in Federal court Van der Linde versus Rivanna Authorities. You can google it for details. Basically, Vanderlinde and Gaffney (then acting executive director) are probably not best buddies.

Follow the money is right...the Rivanna people make $14 per ton on Allied Waste transfer operations IN FLUVANNA on Charlottesville/Albemarle trash, without ever touching a morsel of garbage, through their "comprehensive waste management fee"

Its no wonder the RSWA won't risk investment in recycling or help private sector.

Perfect that this is going in Fluvanna, where they need and deserve new business as opposed to Albemarle, the business killer.

Gaffney and Frederick should be reassigned from their desks to litter pick up along Hwy 250 in Fluvanna county to fetch Charlottesville litter as it blows from garbage trucks travelling in Fluvanna carrying Charlottesville trash!

Sarah12/11/2008 11:37:34 AM

Finally someone is doing something about all of the waste. I think it is a wonderfull idea. I think that we sould all be thankfull to have rich people like Mr. Vanderlinde that actually care about the earth enough to do something about all of the waste. Children might still have a future after all.

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