As a regional leader in environmental stewardship, Chesterfield recognizes the importance of recycling – both through curbside pickup and drop-off opportunities for households and the many businesses that also participate in recycling programs – and its effectiveness in reducing the volume of household waste that ends up in landfills.
Chesterfield has participated in the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority (CVWMA) since its inception in 1991 as one of 13 members, along with Henrico, Hanover, Prince George, New Kent, Charles City, Prince George, Powhatan and Goochland counties, the cities of Richmond, Colonial Heights, Hopewell and Petersburg, and the town of Ashland. CVWMA was established to implement recycling when there were no curbside program options and to help Richmond-area jurisdictions meet a then-new state requirement to divert at least 25% of household waste from landfills.
For the first 20 years of the program, Chesterfield funded curbside recycling for all homes through the general fund budget -- regardless of whether all homes utilized such services. In 2010, facing tough budget prioritization choices in the wake of a global recession, the Board of Supervisors approved a $25 annual fee per household to fully fund the program, along with an opt-out provision for those that chose not to continue receiving the service.
In subsequent years, the county has seen private haulers enter the marketplace providing bundled trash and recycling collection services. In particular, many large developments, such as Charter Colony and Magnolia Green, already have exited the CVWMA program and transitioned to bundled trash and recycling services provided through their homeowners’ associations.
In 2019, rising costs tied to the collapse of overseas markets for recyclable commodities generated projections of local subsidies that would reach $1 million annually by the end of the current CVWMA contract. This reality prompted county leaders to reevaluate the model for Chesterfield’s curbside program, resulting in adoption of a break-even cost approach that increased the annual fee from $25 to $40 (now $41) to eliminate the county’s subsidy of curbside recycling. In addition, the opt-out option was changed to an opt-in model to enhance program transparency for citizens, as many households were paying for a service that they didn’t utilize. Approximately 62,000 out of 110,000 Chesterfield households currently participate in curbside recycling.
With the current curbside contract ending next year, and recognizing that much has evolved in the recycling and waste management industries in the 30 years since the program’s inception, Chesterfield saw the value of a thorough examination of all available options prior to issuance of a request for proposals by CVWMA for a new contract set to begin July 1, 2023. Based on this research, the county requested CVWMA procure a subscription service model program. This service model best aligns with Chesterfield’s longstanding approach to curbside recycling and minimizes the need for local government to play a “middleman” role.
After participating in the CVWMA-led procurement process, which included a request for a subscription service model, and careful consideration of the vendor response, Chesterfield has concluded that citizens can most cost-effectively access curbside recycling through a direct relationship with private haulers. To facilitate this transition, the county has established a website dedicated to assisting citizens with the change to private-sector services.
Further, Chesterfield will continue providing free drop-off recycling at its two convenience centers: Northern Area Convenience Center, 3200 Warbro Road, and the Southern Area Convenience Center, 6700 Landfill Drive.
Simply put, Chesterfield desires a robust recycling program that is available to all citizens predicated upon multiple hauler choices offering the lowest price possible, resulting in savings for individual households. Funding that has been used to subsidize curbside recycling will be reallocated to reduce/reuse/recycle public education and marketing efforts, as well as educational programs in county schools.
It is our intent to remain a regional leader in environmental stewardship and continue exceeding all state goals for recycling rates. In addition, we also will continue to advocate with CVWMA, citizens and businesses for reduction and reuse strategies to decrease the volume of solid waste generated.
For additional information, visit the Curbside Recycling page for details regarding this transition and view the county’s Environmental Stewardship page for sustainability initiatives.