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Recycling Initiatives taken by Suffolk, VA: Inspiration for others

It’s a good time to be in Suffolk – screams the motto from the hoardings welcoming you to the city that has been rated as one of America’s 100 best small cities to live in. An independent city located in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Virginia, Suffolk may be geographically and demographically small.

But the city with its robust recycling program can teach a lesson or two in environmental responsibility to many of its counterparts in the state. From curbside pickup service to special recycling drives – the city does enough and more to promote and encourage recycling among its 84,000-odd residents.

Helping the city along its recycling path are private recyclers. From locally-owned family businesses like TFC recycling that collaborates with the Refuse Division in running the curbside recycling program and special collection drives in the city to niche recyclers like Sims Metal Management that have a global presence and provide an avenue for safe metal recycling – Suffolkhas no dearth of options so far as recycling is concerned.


Here’s looking at some of the recycling initiatives taken by Suffolk that serve as an inspiration to other cities in Virginia:

1. Curbside recycling: Curbside recycling is at the core of Suffolk’s recycling efforts much like other cities in the U.S. As part of this program, also called the Big Bin Recycling, residents are provided large 95-gallon containers in which they can place recyclables like aluminum cans, #1 and #2 plastic bottles, flattened cardboard boxes, newspapers, magazines, junk mail and most types of paper, steel/tin cans, and glass bottles. The Big Bin is collected from the curb on the same day as the trash, so residents don’t need to remember separate schedules.

2. Special collection: The city provides for the removal of bulky items that are too large to fit in the Big Bin such as household appliances, furniture, mattresses, yard waste, debris, and boxes. Residents are offered 12 such special collections of 8 cubic yards of material per year at no charge.

3. Battery recycling: Suffolk Clean Community Commission has set up 12 drop-off locations for safe battery recycling. The city encourages all its residents to ensure that they dispose theirAA, AAA, C, D, and 9V alkaline batteries in a proper manner as they contain certain heavy metals like mercury, lead, and nickel, which can contaminate the environment. However, the battery recycling containers do not accept rechargeable batteries.

4. Metal recycling: Suffolk residents are highly encouraged to recycle their metal scrap at any of the certified private recycling facilities (such as the one operated by Sims Metal Management mentioned earlier in the post). Not only do these recyclers pay competitive rates for the metal scrap, but they also ensure that these products are recycled using international standards of safety, compliance, and environmental sustainability.

5. Special initiatives: From time to time, the City of Suffolk organizes/participates in special recycling initiatives that go above and beyond their regular recycling efforts. A couple of such initiatives include:

  • Recycling and Tire Amnesty Day: This is a quarterly event with the objective to keep the city clean. Represented by the Suffolk Public Works Refuse Division and many other groups, the goal of this special drive is to collect tires and a host of co-mingled recyclable items. In one such drive couple of years ago, Goodwill Industries collected 2,800 pounds of electronics, cell phones, and appliances. A classic case of one man’s trash being another’s treasure!
  • Cans for CashTM Recycling Challenge: In 2010, the City of Suffolk decided to become an active participant in the national Cans for CashTM Recycling Challenge. Sponsored by United States Conference of Mayors, Novelist Corporation, and Keep America Beautiful Inc. and locally co-sponsored bySims Metal Management, the contest challenged people to collect recyclable aluminum beverage cans. The mayor of Suffolk termed it as a fun way to remind people in the community to recycle and showcase Suffolk’s commitment to recycling.

The City of Suffolk is truly living up to its motto. If you’re an environmentalist and a recycling buff, there couldn’t be a better time to be in Suffolk!

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