With apologies for the eleventh-hour call to action, I am asking my fellow municipal recycling customers in the city of Portsmouth to join in a boycott of the non-recycling program over the next two weeks. As I was surprised to learn on November 13, our city administration allowed its recycling contract to expire sometime in the last few weeks and redirected our recyclable material to the Wheelabrator Portsmouth Waste-to-Energy facility, where the combustible material has been burned and the remainder, diverted to the SPSA landfill in Suffolk. (See the Virginian-Pilot investigative report on this matter.) Not only did these revelations come as news to recycling customers but to members of city council, as well.I consider the “no worries, mate” responses of the city management team when the facts came to light nearly as infuriating as the negligence in letting the contract run out without a replacement. We as customers, to say nothing of citizens, deserve better treatment. If my banker, attorney, or doctor dealt with me in this manner, I would be taking my business elsewhere. Unfortunately, in regard to recycling service providers, we do not have a competitive market from which to choose another supplier. With that being the case, letting the one we have know that we’re mad as Halifax about the lack of transparency and promised service is imperative.
Consequently, I am calling upon my neighbors to join me in withholding our recyclable materials for the next two weeks. Since the city has not announced a new vendor for this service, I believe we can safely assume that our separated “blue bin” materials will continue to be treated as ordinary solid waste for the near term. As one who considers recycling an essential part of my household’s “earthcare” practices, I am willing to let my bin accumulate more recyclables over the next fourteen days rather than let what I have collected be incinerated or covered with dirt and incinerator ash. If we as likeminded customers act in concert, we will be sending city officials, elected and appointed, a clear message that we care about both recycling and transparency.
Mark Geduldig-Yatrofsky, Publisher