Company terminates contract to collect Norfolk’s recycling. What does that mean for your curbside pickup?

NORFOLK, Va. - TFC Recycling has decided to terminate its contract to collect the city's curbside recycling. In a press release, the company cited challenges from new Chinese rules that make it tougher to import recycled materials with high contamination.

TFC collects recycling from Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Suffolk, but Norfolk's contract allowed TFC to opt out with 90 days notice. Now the city is looking for a new contract, so by November a different company could be picking up the blue bins.

"What'd we'd like, frankly not just with Norfolk, but with the other cities, is to address contamination problems," said Paul Stacharczyk, senior vice president of TFC. He says the new Chinese rules have led to lower demand for the purchase of recycled materials, as well as more resources required to look for contaminated recycled items.

These are items that don't belong in the recycling or are dirty items. All of that has cut into profits. "We're doing fine, but profitability isn't anywhere near where it was," said Stacharcyzk.

During a tour of TFC on Tuesday, a basketball, luggage and lots of plastic bags could be found in the curbside recycling. Even a pizza box with lots of cheese on the box will likely end up in the trash. "If it's contaminated with food, please do not recycle because there's no market for that," Stacharcyzk said.

So far, city officials say residents don't have to do anything differently, but it could lead to a change in what you can recycle. "Is this going to change what they can recycle? At this point we really don't know," said Trista Pope Fayton, the assistant director of public works in Norfolk. "It's a possibility, but it will depend on the contract that we receive."

It's possible TFC could get the contract again. For now, they're hoping you'll follow this simple rule when recycling. "What I would do is ask them to focus on three things: paper, bottles, cans," said Stacharcyzk.

The company says it will honor the contracts they have with other cities.