West Neck recycling center reopens after improvements

Antoine Rhodes, an operator with Virginia Beach’s waste management division, helps a citizen at the West Neck Recycling Center on Thursday, Dec. 10. The site has been upgraded with compactors, a new traffic flow and onsite staffing. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]
Ed. — The story originally ran in the Sunday, Dec. 13, print edition.


COURTHOUSE — The West Neck Recycling Center near the Municipal Center reopened on Thursday, Dec. 10, after closing for upgrades to make recycling easier for citizens and to prevent illegal dumping.

The project brings recycling compactors to the site rather than a collection of dumpsters, drive-through traffic rather than a rough parking situation and personnel to help people recycle. This is part of changes meant to better serve residents while preventing dumping of nonrecyclables in and around containers.

“Compactors are going to be nice because people will be able to bring their paper, bottles and cans in without tripping over things,” Kristi Rines, the city recycling coordinator, said during an interview this past week. “It’s just going to clean up the whole site.”

Propane tanks, potted plants, vacuum cleaners, wood, construction debris and so much more have been dumped at recycling centers. It reached a tipping point in late 2019, and Virginia Beach permanently closed recycling drop-off sites at Oceana and First Landing State Park and curtailed hours at West Neck. Officials said sites at First Landing and Oceana could not be effectively converted to controlled sites.

When the West Neck center reopened this past week, a number of citizens said the upgrades were an improvement. Public works personnel were there to help people navigate the new system and educate about what cannot be recycled, such as balloons, plastic shopping bags or, in one case, a shoe.

New hours at the West Neck site are from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Another recycling site remains available at the Virginia Beach Landfill and Resource Recovery Center on Jake Sear Road, where compactors went into use early this year.

“They like the flow of things,” said Antoine Rhodes, an operator with the city waste management division who helped citizens on Thursday, Dec. 10. “It’s a little more organized. As workers, we like it a lot. In one side, out the other.”

Rines was there, too, and she spoke with Paul Lanciaux, a West Neck resident who dropped off some recyclables.

“No more couches and no more TVs,” Lanciaux said.

“That’s the plan,” Rines said.

The days of using recycling dumpsters are done. Below, the new traffic flow at the West Neck Recycling Center has customers enter on one side, drop of recycling at the new compactors and loop around to exit. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]
The Oceana Recycling Center, now closed, is seen in this file image. It is one of two city recycling centers closed in early 2020 due to illegal dumping. [File/The Princess Anne Independent News]

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