TFC redoes recycling list, adds cartons to mix of acceptable items

OUTLET: Inside Business

Residents of South Hampton Roads can now include paper-based milk and juice cartons in their curbside blue recycling containers.

The change is the first time in years the list of items accepted for recycling has substantially expanded, said Michael Benedetto, the president and owner of Chesapeake-based TFC Recycling.

Benedetto, local officials and recycling industry advocates and professionals gathered Nov. 15 – America Recycles Day – at the company’s headquarters to formally announce the change. The Carton Council of North America supported the advancement with a grant, which was used to install optical sorting equipment.

The list of cartons that can now be recycled includes shelf-stable containers for juice, soup, broth and wine; and refrigerated cartons for milk, juice, cream and egg substitutes.

“There’s some additional labor and some additional equipment in order to make it all come together, but really it’s about trying to help the environment and help the communities do the right thing,” Benedetto said.

Matt Todd, a representative from the Carton Council, said the industry and advocacy group has worked since 2009 to increase access to carton recycling nationwide.

“When we started on this, about 18 percent of the country had access to carton recycling, and now we’re pushing 60 percent,” said Todd, who acknowledged there is financial value in recycled carton material. “You sell that on the markets just like you would cardboard, just like you would newspaper or any other paper-derived material,” Todd said.

Recycled carton material is usually sold on the market for dollars per ton, versus metals such as aluminium, which might be sold for pennies per pound. “Where you’re looking at aluminium is usually in the $1,000 to $1,200 per ton range,” recycled paper and fiber-based material usually goes for $60 to $150 per ton. “There’s still a lot of value, because there’s a lot of volume,” Todd said. “So it does add up.”

Benedetto echoed that sentiment but said there’s a higher purpose to expanding what gets recycled.

“It goes beyond the value of the product,” he said. “It’s about keeping it out of the landfill.”

With two large bales of recycled cartons and a new natural gas-powered recycling truck as a backdrop, TFC also announced the company wants to recognize streets and neighborhoods in the region each month that have recycling participation rates that are 80 percent or higher.

“There are a lot of streets and a lot of residents that do the right thing, and we want to encourage residents to be encouraging their neighbors to make sure they’re putting their recycling containers out, so we’re all contributing to a bigger, greener picture,” Benedetto said.

The first streets in the Green Streets program will be announced in early 2017, when the initiative is formally launched. The program’s goal is to promote environmental awareness and community pride. Details are available at greenstreetsva.com.

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