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Business Owners Face New Recycling Requirements

by Uriah Kiser February 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm 2,458 47 Comments

Those who own and operate apartment complexes and multi-family residences must now provide their residents more opportunities to recycle materials.

The Arlington County Board in December voted to change its recycling regulations and now requires businesses and multi-family homes to accommodate the recycling of additional materials like mixed paper – cardboard, office paper, junk mail, food boxes – along with metal cans and other metal objects, glass, aluminum, and plastic.

County officials say business owners have 90 days, beginning Feb. 1, to get a recycling program in place or they will be in violation of the new ordinance.

“By stepping up education and recycling requirements in the County, we plan to capture more recyclables while reducing trash – which ultimately will provide cost savings for County businesses and residents while helping to preserve our resources,” said Arlington Department of Environmental Services Director William O’Connor in a press release.

Additionally as part of the new resolution, old fashioned TVs with cathode-ray tubes and computer monitors with a traditional picture tube must be recycled and not thrown out with the garbage.

Residents may call 703-228-6570 to have these items picked up from the curb, or may visit the county’s website.

They may also drop off materials at the county’s Hazardous Materials facility.

  • I recycle everything. Into the trash can.

    • To the person who said they recycle everything “right into the trash can”, you are not funny and your attitude SUCKS.

      • Newt

        Don’t let TGEoA get under your skin, “it’s” comments are always ridiculous.

  • jan

    I’d like to see plastic bottle containers at the car washes and gas stations.

  • Jezebel

    Um, would be ENVIRONMENTAL services, not social services.

  • Our apartment complex does the bare minimum. When the bins fill up on the weekend, all the excess goes right into the trash dumpster…should be a paper bin by all apartment complex mail areas for junk mail. To the city credit, the “all in one” bins encourage recycling; people hate sorting the stuff out.

  • MIchael H.

    What about the casual dining restaurants? They generate a lot of plastic (water bottles, food containers, etc.) every day. Many of those locations do not have recycling bins. I would think that the Pentagon City mall food court should have recycling bins. They can afford it.

    • jan


    • Bob

      I agree too, but would be shocked if a majority of the food court clientele could be somehow persuaded to recycle…. It often seems that a fair portion of them are having trouble adhering to basic norms of civilized behavior… Advanced behavior might be a stretch…

      • Josh S


      • ChrisG

        Snob much?

      • local

        How do you know, do you eat there too? That makes you one of them.

  • I’m happy to see a program like this encouraged (mandated?), though when I see something proposed that’s a bit more “progressive” than what would be seen elsewhere in the state, I always wonder if the County’s going to get sued for lack of Dillon Rule authority.

    I wonder if they just think they have general ability under zoning or public health authority, or if there’s something more specific in the Code to trash/recycling regulations.

  • Matt Wavro

    This article highlights a significant waste of resources by the Arlington County Board. I am all for recycling and think that increasing recycling is a laudable goal. The new regulations both require recycling and increase spending on recycling awareness. The county board should pick one of the two and then allocate resources accordingly. Either spend tax dollars requiring recycling or spend tax dollars on a public awareness campaign.
    Seeing the continuation of this approach to strictly regulating economic activity and then increasing taxes to spend money on PR surrounding the already completed regulatory action shows Chris Zimmerman’s pledge to help businesses in Arlington to be hollow.

    • Josh S

      Huh? Hollow businesses? File and forget? Require but don’t inform? I’m looking for the sense here, and finding very little….

    • bob

      You’re on the right track, but the real story is even worse.

      Arlington recycling is driven by need to show certain percentages of VOLUME, rather than looking at value.

      Their inability to expand recycling small metal items — which have tremendous resale value — and continuing to allow commingling of plastic is evidence of that.

      I’d expand the county recycling centers and add compost, clear glass, colored glass and small metal bins.

      But arlington doesn’t really care about this.

      • local

        Their first priority is reducing landfill waste, i.e. volume. Yes, they should try to make the most money out of it, but that’s priority 2.

  • yellowliner

    This is great, thanks Arlington County Board! My apt only does newspapers, cans and bottles and it has always seemed a shame to me. I can’t wait to see how long it takes for them to start the new program.

  • Scott

    I have been managing a building in Arlington for 20 years now and we have always been ahead of the game when it came to recycling and have had recycling in place since the early 90’s. The county now charges an inspection fee every year for somene to come out and make sure you are in compliance. Guess what? Thye refuse to prove that they have been to your complex and will not make an apointment to meet with you but they still send the bill. I caught one of the inspectors one year and was giving a tongue lashing cause we do not force the tenants to recycle! Mean while 2 other complexes near me had no recycling in place and 2 years later there is still no recycling at those places. The county puts this stuff in place and than doesn’t enforce it equally!

    • Josh S

      See, Matt – this is what happens without good follow-up effort. Entirely predictable. Passing a law/regulation and then just assuming everything will work out isn’t exactly intelligent governance.
      On the other hand, Scott should hardly be crowing about having recycling in place since the 90s. Yeah, I suppose that makes your building better than many in Arlington, but you’d still be 20 years late to the party. At least.

      • Scott

        Dear Josh S.,

        You miss the point completely. The reason we started recycling 20 years ago was Arlington County made it law for all to recycle in the county. The only reason Arlington County is just now enforcing it is to make money.

  • leroy jenkins

    I don’t know what it’s like today, but as of a couple years ago, BM Smith, one of the largest property management companies on Columbia Pike, made it nearly impossible to recycle. They had one closet in the building for ‘recycling.’ It was rarely emptied, always full, and most likely was just dumped in the trash. Hopefully they’ve change their ways, but when i lived there…

    • South Arlington

      Yes 2200 a few years ago only had a single recycling can that they stuck down in the garage. This can would fill up in a day or two making it impossible to dispose of recycling most of the week. Complaining to the front desk only led to a generous serving of sass.

  • CrystalMikey

    My place in Crystal City must be ahead of the game in terms of what we can recycle. Though with only one collection point, down in the parking garage, not sure how many of my fellow residents actually take stuff down there.

  • Ray

    Since the recycling program in Arlington accepts so many things, we have very little non-recyclable garbage at our house. Food waste is about it. If I started composting, I could probably go entire weeks without producing any non-recyclable garbage.

    • Burger

      It is hard for us mere mortals to meet your level of perfection

      • Josh S

        Spare us the sarcasm. It’s hardly an extraordinary effort and one that is entirely normal elsewhere (Japan, Germany) so not exactly outside the realm of possibility for mortals.

        • Burger

          Why should I spare a clearly elitist post from ridicule.

      • local

        People who put one kind of waste in one bin and another in a different bin are superhuman! :rolleyes:

        • Burger

          I’d guess Ray is single and spends time figuring out where trash should go. At the least he doesn’t have kids.

          • Ray

            Actually, I have kids and don’t spend any extra time sorting. I certainly didn’t mean to sound elitist. Rather, I was hoping my comment would help others see how easy it is. I have one bin for garbage and one for recycling. Almost everything goes in the recycling bin. Food waste and the occasional plastic container goes in the garbage. It’s very simple.

            I’m not super green. I drive to work. I don’t like CFL light bulbs. When my kids were younger, they used disposable diapers (back then, I needed a big trash can!). But recycling is something that’s easy to do for me, I guess.

          • local

            You should try CFLs. If you get the right kind, the light is as good or better than incandescent, and they’ll save you alot of money. Even better (but alot more expensive upfront) are the new LED bulbs.

          • local

            Really, Burger? It’s that hard to sort trash? I have kids too. My wife works too. Yet somehow we manage to put one kind of trash in one container and one in the other.

    • local

      Yeah, sometimes I go 2 or 3 weeks without taking out the regular trash.

  • 4Arl

    Just because you put it in a recycling bin doesn’t mean it doesn’t end up in the trash, either here or abroad. How much of the material collected in Arlington actually makes it back into products? By adding and mixing the types of material accepted, it looks and feels good to some people. But trying to make it easy to collect more things can reduce the value of collected material, and often results in increased residual waste and shipments abroad for “recycling”

    • Burger

      Here is the right answer. I’d bet a good percentage of Arlington’s recycled “waste” ends up right next to the regular waste.

      • local

        You “bet?” Based on what? You’re detailed knowledge of the subject?

        • Burger

          Stay late one night in your office and see what the cleaning people do with your recyclable garbage verse you nonrecycleable garbarge. And this happens at all levels and institutions.

          • local

            How many buildings have you seen doing this?

            You need a sample size of at least 500 to do a decent statistically valid survey.

    • CrankyMom

      Arlington uses a facility that is capable of sorting out different types of materials. This is desirable because it makes recycling easier and thus more likely to be used. Some recyclables, such as metal cans and corrugated cardboard, have a good resale value, so it is important to be able to isolate them correctly. This video is a bit dated but it gives you a look at the process: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GroeqVYSkGk

  • eosacritic

    Why don’t you learn about how Arlington does its (successful and normally profitable!) commingled recycling before you say these ridiculous things? They don’t need to add separate recycling containers for each item anymore-it’s separated after being collected by pretty sophisticated systems.
    Our County is actually one of the best in the COUNTRY at this. Not perfect (as evidenced by Scott above), but pretty darn good. This conversation is not helped by spurious and inaccurate claims and accusations. Grow up and be responsible.

    • Burger

      I agree. Not sure I understand the post anyway. Until single homes got the new blue trash cans, we were supposed to seperate the paper from the glass and cans. once the new cans I was told just to dump it into the can and the County would seperate it out. Why should it be any different for condos and apartments.

    • jan

      good subject for an ARLNow article.

  • Westover

    So which bin do the dirty diapers go in?

  • Kathy on Columbia Pike

    My condo started with single stream recycling a couple of years ago. We have private trash pickup. We no longer have to separate items and we can recycle more materials. All paper, cardboard, various plastics, metal cans, & glass containers. The only problem I see is people dumping non-recyclable stuff in the bin along with the recyclables. I have very little trash now and the food waste sits too long in my trash can because the trash takes a while to get full. I would be interesting in composting but it is hard to do in a hi-rise. The Arlington County TV channel had a program on that showed how the recycled materials are physically separated at the processing plant. It was pretty neat!

  • Kathy on Columbia Pike

    http://www.youtube.com/arlingtoncounty#p/c/0/WFfGEC_m6ms Here is the Arlington County video showing the single stream recycling process.


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