(Updated at 1 p.m.) Arlington’s 33,000 single family homes generate on average a little more than a ton of garbage and recyclable material apiece, per year. But where exactly does it go?
Erik Grabowksy, Arlington County’s Solid Waste Bureau Chief, has the answer to that question.
The process starts at home with a system that many residents likely familiar with. Arlington County gives its residents a blue recycling can for recyclables and a black trash can for garbage. Though they’re placed on the same curb, the contents of those cans will end up in two different places.
Collection crews take paper, bottles, cans and plastic to a processing center in Merrifield where those items are converted into raw materials for sale on the commodities market, Grabowsky said. (An earlier version of this article reported erroneously that the processing center was in Manassas.)
The raw materials then go to a facility in Elkridge, Maryland for further processing.
“That is basically paper, cardboard, aluminum, steel cans, plastic bottles and that type of material,” Grabowsky said. “That material is collected in a separate truck and taken to what is called a material recovery facility where there is a series of conveyors and sorting processes which separate the material into different commodities.”
If it’s regular trash, it travels to a Covanta Energy facility in Alexandria where it is burned to generate electricity. According to Covanta, the facility can process up to 970 tons of trash each day and generate up to 23 megawatts of energy.
“On the waste hierarchy — when you talk about reduce, reuse, recycle — incineration is above landfilling because it has some value with energy recovery associated with it,” said Grabowsky.
Grabowsky said the facility complies with EPA standards and that, because of the location, it is constantly evaluated to strict emissions standards.
“Because of the EPA and the fact that we’re in a non-attainment area, we have very high air emissions standards,” he said. “The plant is evaluated constantly and it is way below the EPA established threshold for any kind of toxins or SO2 (sulfur dioxide).”
Along with recyclables and regular trash, county workers also collect electronic, metal and yard waste. The metal is converted into scrap and sold while the electronic waste is taken to be deconstructed and stripped of valuable minerals and other components.
For yard waste, it is taken to a facility where it is ground up into compost used to enrich the soil, Grabowski said.
“We have a very comprehensive collection system with a whole bunch of different material going in different directions,”said Grabowsky. “We want them to be used in their highest and best use. We try to stay away from landfilling and recycle as much as possible.”
Video by Omar DeBrew
Good Friday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 5266 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…
A water rescue operation is underway along Four Mile Run after reports of a drunk man falling down an embankment. The incident happened shortly before 4 p.m. behind the Virginia…
With the Yellow Line bridge and tunnel work complete, Metro is upping service on the line. Starting Sunday, Yellow Line trains will arrive every eight minutes all day, the transit…
In honor of the one-month anniversary of this article, we give you a new Mike Mount cartoon. In case you don’t get the reference, it also riffs on some of…
Join MoCA Arlington Summer Camps at Marymount University and learn the fundamentals of handbuilding, throwing on a wheel, glazing, and much more. In this two-week course, students will explore hand building techniques, wheel throwing, and strengthen ideas that exemplify individual artist expression guided by professional working artists. Students of all skill levels are welcome!
Visit MoCA Arlington’s Website here and the registration page to secure your space today!
Please join us on Saturday, June 3, from 2 to 4 pm for the Glencarlyn Home Tour in Arlington’s historic Glencarlyn neighborhood. Among the featured homes will be a sparkling new home by A&N Builders at 5604-4th St. South. The inviting front porch opens to a light-filled space featuring high ceiling, wood floors, gas fireplace, Pella windows, Shrock cabinets, Quartz countertop, and JennAir appliances. Doors from the family room open to a large covered porch with a few steps to the level, landscaped rear yard. Upstairs, there are four bedrooms, three bathrooms, laundry room, and linen storage. The big lower level has a rec room, gym space, and a fifth bedroom and bathroom plus even more storage. After leaving the home, stroll to the Ball-Sellers home, the oldest residence in Arlington, the community gardens at the library, Carlin Hall, and the 94 acre Glencarlyn Park. A lovely way to while away a late spring afternoon.
Homebuying 101: Steps to Getting Pre-Approved
Are you ready to jump into homeownership or started considering it but don’t know where to start? Financial preparation is key when thinking about purchasing your first home and the first step to getting pre-approved.
Join ACFCU’s mortgage loan officers
4th of July Celebration & Fireworks
Treat yourself this Independence Day with a world-class, private 4th of July extravaganza at the Military Women’s Memorial – a premier National Capital Region site.
Great food, fun, and the best views of Washington DC’s spectacular fireworks display. Relax, enjoy,