MOUNT CRAWFORD — Joshua Knight lugged the bags out of the back of his Hyundai Santa Fe at the storage unit off U.S. 11.
Knight, a Harrisonburg truck driver, was hauling a different kind of load that morning for his gig work for Recyclops — a new recycling service that popped up locally last week.
Recyclops is a recycling service that works somewhat like Uber, according to Dennis Wise, vice president of sales and business development.
Gig workers use their own cars to pick up recycling placed into specific bags for monthly or annual subscribers. The startup is based out of Utah.
“It really is a rapid expansion,” Wise said.
When 10 people request Recyclops come to an area, the company starts looking into how to make that happen, according to Wise.
And when 100 people sign up, the company begins pickups, such as in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, where over 100 people have signed up, Wise said.
“Waynesboro and Staunton will be coming up, and we also get requests from all over,” Wise said.
He said the company notifies localities of its plans and has become the de facto recycling collection arm for 120 municipalities.
In Harrisonburg, Cate Lemmond said she thought the service was a great idea and is happy with it so far.
“We didn’t have a good option with our work schedules to be able to get to the recycling centers,” Lemmond said.
She is the founding president of Anicira Veterinary Centers and said the Harrisonburg office will begin recycling with Recyclops in August. Her husband, Marc, who works for the U.S. Department of Energy, said he also likes the service so far.
“I love that we’re able to support a company that is showcasing how you can make a profit from doing the responsible thing for the environment,” Marc Lemmond said.
Two people down at the Harrisonburg Recycling Convenience Center on Beery Road said Tuesday they had heard about the company.
Retired Page County pharmacist Bob Borgie, who now lives in Rockingham County, said he heard about the company through his subdivision’s homeowners association.
He said he tried to sign up for the system but could not due to technical issues. Back in Page County, Borgie said, recycling was collected by the county every two weeks and was successful.
Jessica Graf of Harrisonburg said she has heard about Recyclops but is not interested in the service because she doesn’t mind going to the city recycling center. Plus, her 19-month-old son, Max Smith Graf, comes along too.
“He loves to see all the trucks,” she said. “That’s a bonus for him.”
Graf said some of her neighbors might be interested in the service.
Laura Minnich Lockey, also of Harrisonburg, said she wanted to know more about the service before signing up.
Wise said the business has four advantages over typical recycling collection programs.
One is lower overhead, such as the gig economy drivers, and another is reduced contamination of the plastic, he said. People paying for a recycling service put more effort into properly sorting their recyclables than residents of a locality who may not take as much care with a municipal recycling program, according to Wise.
He said the third point is Recyclops’ relationship with the dwindling number of material recovery facilities, which want properly sorted recyclables, and fourth is the company’s partnership with large national trucking firm Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc., which hauls large amounts of recycling over long distances to the processing facilities, Wise said.
He said the company also has a 100% money-back guarantee, and people will only begin to be charged for services after their recycling is picked up for the first time.
As Knight finished loading up the storage unit from his county rounds Tuesday morning, he said he enjoys telling people about the company.
As he made he made his way through the county route Tuesday morning, six different people inquired about what he was collecting recycling for, he said.
“For all living things, sustaining the universe is something that should be a priority for us,” Knight said.