CHESAPEAKE, Va. – For Howard of Chesapeake, recycling is an everyday necessity.
“This is my father’s world, and I hate to see it used like a trash can,” he said. “I pick up things on the street sometimes and put it in my recycling bin. I’ve seen enough TV on things in the ocean – for instance, all the plastic that it’s ruined that’s actually killed the fish and the whales.”
The consequences go beyond the ocean.
“We have a saying: “When in doubt, throw it out,’” said TFC Recycling Education Outreach Coordinator Kathy Russell. “We get water hoses all the time. We get rope. We get stretch film, like big tarps or plastic wrap or plastic bags. We don’t accept any of that.”
Russell said the biggest mistake people make is recycling batteries, including lithium ion batteries used in laptops and cellphones. With more and more of them coming through the plant, the outcome could be disastrous.
A large fire broke out at the Chesapeake-based plant in May after a lithium ion battery exploded on the conveyer belt. The same thing happened in April where Chesapeake Fire Department were called in to put out the flames.
Additionally, two of TFC’s trucks went up in flames in January and December from lithium ion batteries. The damages forced the plant to shut down for days and put workers’ lives at risk.
“Lithium ion batteries and household batteries do not belong to the recycling bin,” Russell said. “We process somewhere around 40 tons an hour, running two shifts a day. When that plant gets shut down, that’s stopped.”
TFC recycling picks up paper, bottles and cans curbside across most of Hampton Roads and the Peninsula.
People can stop at a household hazardous waste center in their city to properly dispose of dangerous chemicals and items such as aerosol cans and propane tanks.