It has been three weeks since I learn about environmental sustainability in my host community, and I had a chance to see how the solid wastes are managed in different areas: City of Charlottesville, Albermarle County, and University of Virginia. It made me very excited as learning how developed countries manage their wastes, particularly solid wastes, has been one of my focuses in this program. Currently, my hometown is facing a problem due to the overload capacity of landfill area. All kind of wastes are sent to landfill and the principle of 3R (reduce-reuse-recycle) is absent. Hence, learning how the wastes are reduced, reused, and recycled in my host community would provide me an insight to solve the waste problem in my hometown.
City of Charlottesville and Albermarle County
For unrecyclable wastes, refuse collection services are provided by the City of Charlottesville through the purchase of trash stickers. Meanwhile, Albermarle County encourages its residents to do a contract with a private sector to collect their unrecyclable wastes to be then delivered to a transfer station. In terms of the recyclable waste, the City of Charlottesville provides free pickup of certain recyclable material curbside in bins. There is also Rivanna Solid Waste Authority that offers recycling services as the request of the City of Charlottesville and Albermarle County. One of the recycling center provided is McIntire Recycling Centre, where I had a chance to visit.
McIntire Road Recycling Center
The recyclable wastes are separated into several bins, such as cans, paper, plastic bags, and plastic bottles. The organic waste bins are also provided, to turn the wastes to composts. Another interesting thing is, that the presence of this recycling center is not only reduce the amount of wastes go to the final disposal, but also provides the benefit to citizens, for instance, the recycling center provides a book bin. It is kind of book exchange, so the residents can drop their unused books, and they can pick whatever books from the bin (no more than 10 books).
Book bin at McIntire Road Recycling Center (http://rivanna.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Book-Bin-at-McIntire.jpg)
University of Virginia (U.Va.)
Last Monday, I had also a chance to see how U.Va. manages its solid wastes. Through the ROSE Program (Reusable Office Supply Exchange), the principle of ‘reuse’ from 3R principle is applied. The program’s purpose is to facilitate the collection of gently or never used office supplies from departments and students. These materials are then available at no cost to students and public. They can stop by the Recycling warehouse, and take whatever supplies that they need for free. In addition, the U.Va. also educates the students and the staffs to buy things in the amount that they need, so that they can reduce the waste production as well as increase the energy efficiency. Moreover, the materials such as aluminum, cardboard, glass, and plastic bottles are available to be recycled. U.Va owns a recycling center, where these materials are sorted out to be taken care further by private sector. In the end, it is expected that less wastes or even zero waste are sent to the landfill.
Free office supply for students, staffs, and public
Solid wastes are sorted out at U.Va. Recycling Center
Lastly, by learning how the City of Charlottesville, Albermarle County, and U.Va. manage its solid wastes, I reflect that the support and participation of community are vital in order this program works successfully. Education and persuasion are required to change community behavioral. However, a good infrastructure and a strong policy provided by the government are mandatory. And looking at the current condition in my hometown, I am feeling overwhelmed. But, I can start it by taking a small step, with a small number of community to gain a bigger impact, as my host told me. And, this is one lesson learnt that I will bring back to my country!