CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Recycling in Chesapeake is back in the spotlight.
Over the summer, the City of Chesapeake voted to end city-funded curbside recycling, despite a petition with more than 7,000 signatures asking them to keep it.
However, Wednesday night, community members came together to make it clear that the conversation is not over.
About 70 Chesapeake residents gathered to talk about their new options for recycling.
"We feel the most efficient form of recycling is curbside recycling through a city program. That is not currently an option before us, so our goal is really to get people recycling and know what their options are," said moderator and Chesapeake Recycling co-founder Lacy Shirey.
The group heard from three different privately-owned, subscription-based recycling companies and one recycling plant.
"One of the things that was really important to us from the beginning was accessibility. We believe that recycling should be accessible to all people regardless of where you live," said Kelsey Brave with Happy Planet.
Three organizations, Happy Planet, Recyclops and TFC Recycling, serve just about the entire city. TFC previously held the recycling contract with the city before they voted to let it expire.
You can sign up for around $12 to $15 a month and they’ll come to pick up your recyclables.
"What we want to do is increase how people are recycling, whatever option works best for them," said Shirey.
The city also offers seven recycling drop-off sites and hosts recycling days throughout the year. Although, as 13News Now previously reported, residents complained the bins were already overflowing. At the time, the city said they weren't expecting such a big turnout right at the beginning and would offer more bins and pick-up times.
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Earlier this month, city council gave its first-quarter report, which noted the stream of recycling is cleaner but found only 10% of what was being collected curbside is accounted for in the drop-off sites. However, that does not include what private businesses are picking up.
"Compared to curbside pickup, we can say for sure that right now, we're not recycling as much as we were," said Shirey.
The panelists stressed the importance of knowing what you can and can’t recycle, no matter which option you choose.
Dennis Ackerman said if curbside pickup doesn’t return, he’d like to see more partnerships form.
"I’d like to see it come back. I would also like the city to figure out how to work with the private sector so that there’s a balance between what the city is doing and what the private sector is doing."
Losing curbside recycling also inspired Ackerman to start getting his Lions Club involved in helping out with collecting recycling.
When council voted to end curbside recycling, they anticipated a savings of around $2 million. The city said those funds would go towards staffing shortages for waste management and public safety services.
Shirey, along with others in the crowd, said they hope new city council members after election day will mean the conversation to bring recycling back will start.