County Board Approves Year-Round Yard Waste Collection

Yard waste (photo via Arlington County)

Year-round yard waste collection is coming to Arlington

On Saturday, the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a measure that will provide curbside collection of yard waste year round for Arlington households.

The new service is expected to divert up to 9,000 tons of compostable materials from trash collection and raise the county’s recycling rate, which is already the highest in the region.

While Arlington’s solid waste rate remains the lowest in the region, the yard waste collection will ultimately cost homeowners an extra $47 per year.

Critics have said that the extra cost will hurt already-burdened Arlington homeowners. Critics also say that the extra trucks required to haul the yard waste may produce more greenhouse gasses than are saved by not sending the yard waste with other trash to a waste-to-energy plant, as is current practice.

The county’s press release about year-round yard waste collection, after the jump.

The Arlington County Board today adopted an amendment to its refuse code that will bring year-round yard waste curbside collection services to households beginning April 1, 2016. The new program is expected to divert up to 9,000 more tons of compostable material from the waste stream, increasing Arlington’s recycling rate by up to 13 percent. The County’s current residential recycling rate is among the highest in the region, at 47.2 percent.

Previous efforts to begin year-round yard waste were halted in 2014 because of litigation with unsuccessful bidders. Due to the extended delay, the County went back to the community to seek public input on the proposed service via an online residential survey in September 2015. Sixty percent of respondents supported implementing collection of separated yard waste throughout the year.

“Year-round yard waste collection is an important new service for our residents,” Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said. “For a modest increase in the household solid waste rate, we can make a real difference in our recycling rate, and a difference in our environment. This is a service that our residents have said they want, and we are glad to at last be able to provide it.”

The Board voted 5-0 to adopt the code amendment.

The Household Solid Waste Rate would remain $271.04 through the end of Fiscal Year 2016, and the addition of year-round yard waste services could increase the rate to no more than $308 in Fiscal Year 2017. Arlington currently charges the lowest per-household solid waste rate in the region, roughly $66 less than the next lowest cost jurisdiction.

For a detailed breakdown on costs and to learn more, read the staff report for this item on the County website. Scroll down to Items #39A and #39B on the Agenda for the Saturday, Nov. 14 County Board Meeting. On Thursday, Nov. 19, the County Board will consider Item #39C, a resolution adopting a Zero Waste Goal for Arlington County.

Residents will have the option of having a County-provided organics yard waste cart for yard waste recycling. The carts will be delivered in February and March 2016. Opting out of the cart, however, will not change the household solid waste rate. Residents will receive a letter this month with information about how to opt out of or change the size of the cart that will be delivered. Residents can also use biodegradable paper bags, tied bundles or personal household containers to set out yard waste on their collection day. Biodegradable paper bags will continue to be provided to residents in the fall and spring, when the most yard waste is generated. (Note: Yard waste that is in plastic bags or mixed with trash will not be collected with organics because it cannot be composted.)

Arlington’s existing seasonal collection of leaves lasts 10 weeks in the fall and six weeks each spring for yard waste such as leaves, plants, shrub trimmings and small branches. During the rest of the year, yard waste is handled as trash and converted to energy at the waste-to-energy facility in Alexandria

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