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Charlottesville residents wonder why recycling bins were carted away

Residents of the Altamont in downtown Charlottesville found their recycling bins were taken away in mid-July.

The property manager told tenants that the building would no longer offer recycling bins “due to new regulations in the City.”

“Moving forward, it will be tenants’ responsibility to recycle if you wish,” manager Vaida Manzano wrote in an email obtained by The Daily Progress.

Wick Hunt lives behind the building, located on Altamont Circle. He said he saw the recycling bins being collected.

“I think it’s a bad idea,” he said. “There’s a lot of recycling that comes out of that building. It’s going to be turned to trash.”

Despite what the property manager said, the city says the bins were not removed due to a new regulation but rather an old regulation being enforced.

City code places a limit on how much refuse a building can produce before the city curbside collection will no longer pick it up.

Any property that averages “more than twelve (12) thirty-two-gallon containers will be denied city curbside collection service, in which case the property owner is responsible to arrange for proper disposal of refuse through a private company,” the code reads.

Jonathan Dean, city public service manager, said the treasury department recently became aware that the building had exceeded that limit. The department handles purchases and the dispatch of decals on trash collection containers. Each city container must have a decal.

“The number of decals they were requesting to buy indicated that volume would cross that threshold,” Dean told The Daily Progress.

But Manzano claims the issue was a rule change.

"Previously, I think we used to get eight cans. This year they limited us to either four or three," she told The Daily Progress. "I told them we have 30 apartment units. That’s not enough trash cans."

Manzano was not sure which private trash collector her building has contracted. But she said it did not offer recycling services.

Blue Property Management, which owns the building, is looking at other options. The cost of adding recycling will be a key part of the final decision, she said.

The city does not offer any guidance on which trash collection company a building should contract.

The Daily Progress contacted two local garbage collection companies who indicated that customers must pay an extra fee to receive recycling services in addition to trash pickup.

One Altamont resident, who asked not to be named, told The Daily Progress they were upset after being notified the property would no longer have recycling.

“I wasn’t happy,” they said upon receiving Manzano’s email. “It’s kind of ridiculous. On-site recycling is one of the things that attracted me to this place.”

Altamont is one of many buildings to no longer have access to city curbside collection.

“Many multifamily unit locations don’t qualify for trash service and many have to go the private collection route,” Dean said. “It becomes the property owner’s responsibility to find and source a private collector for solid waste and recycling.”

It is unclear if the city tracks how many buildings do not qualify for city curbside collection.

If other buildings have also chosen not to pay the extra fee, there may be many properties throughout the city that are not recycling.

In her email, Manzano suggested residents take their recycling to the recycling center located on McIntire Road.

The McIntire recycling facility is a popular destination for many green locals. One employee there told The Daily Progress that roughly 500-800 cars enter the facility to drop off recycling every day.

Altamont residents will now need to load their recycling into their vehicles and do the same. Otherwise their paper, plastic and other recyclable items will likely be grouped with the trash.

“Another absentee landlord with no interest in the community, or the environment,” Hunt said in an email.


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