Getting the county’s recycling program back on track will involve a concentrated effort from the county in fine-tuning its recycling program and searching for regional partners.

It also will require a willingness on the part of citizens in not only recognizing the need to recycle but in their having a better idea of what and where they can bring recyclables.

Those were some of the ideas brought forward at an ad hoc recycling committee meeting held last week at the Halifax County Board of Supervisors administrative office.

TFC Recycling, located in Chesterfield County, took co-mingled recyclables for nine years before suspending the service earlier this year due to “dirty” loads, officially notifying the county on April 3 it would no longer accept loads from Halifax County, according to Ricky Nelson, director of public works for Halifax County,

Tariffs and other economic factors have led China, the biggest market for American recyclables, to limit what it takes, and China no longer accepts cardboard, according to County Administrator Scott Simpson, who attended the meeting along with Nelson and committee members ED-1 Supervisor J. T. Davis, ED-4 Supervisor Dennis Witt and ED-7 Supervisor Garland Ricketts.

Cardboard, newsprint and some plastics are prime candidates for recycling, in addition to plastic jugs and plastic bottles, according to Nelson, but recyclers such as TFC recycling have closed the parameters on what they’re going to take, Nelson said last week.

The less material a recycler can sell, the less money it takes in, and the more control it exerts over what it accepts, Nelson told the committee.

Glass and metal are no longer candidates for recycling, he added.

Several ways to help “clean up” the loads delivered to recyclers were discussed last week including better identification of recycling bins as opposed to trash bins and more visible signage notifying the general public of what can be recycled.

Simpson told the committee one of the big issues is public awareness.

On random visits to recycling centers throughout the county, Simpson has not seen definitive signage on recycling bins indicating what is acceptable and what isn’t.

What’s acceptable for recycling is basically cardboard, paper and certain kinds of plastics, according to Simpson, adding that litter control grants can be used to help pay for signage identifying acceptable types of recyclables.

Another idea floated by Simpson involves reducing the locations that accept recycling from 15 to about five, until the county can get a handle on the issue as far as quality of the bins.

Simpson recommended monitoring recycling sites that remain in Volens, Halifax, Turbeville, Clover and South Boston.

“We’re too spread out to get control over what we’re putting in these bins,” said Simpson, who also suggested painting the recycling bins bright yellow to distinguish them from trash bins at each site.

Davis went one step further, suggesting the recycling bins be placed further back at each facility, maybe to help prevent some citizens from tossing everything into the first bin they see upon arrival.

Committee members agreed with Simpson that getting “clean loads,” ones that are acceptable to TFC Recycling, is a short-term solution.

Also seeking regional partnerships to help the problem can be looked into further.

The committee agreed to meet again in four or five months to gauge the progress of steps it took last week.

Doug Ford reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at dford@gazettevirginian.com.

Doug Ford covers news and sports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at dford@gazettevirginian.com.