(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) Arlington County’s costs for recycling is continuing to rise after a Chinese ban last year, officials say, but most of what residents place in the recycling bin is still getting recycled.
Costs for processing recyclables have risen from $15.73 per ton to $28.62 per ton in the last six months as the value of things like paper and plastics is plummeting, Arlington’s chief of solid waste Erik Grabowsky told ARLnow today.
Recyclables remain cheaper than trash, which costs the county $43.16 per ton, but the industry lost the primary way items get recycled.
Recycling is a $200 billion global industry with China importing as much as 70 percent — that is, until the country abruptly stopped in January 2018 over pollution concerns. The loss of such a big buyer has plummeted the value of some plastics and low-grade paper, forcing many cities to nix recycling all together, the New York Times reported last week.
“The China Ban has negatively impacted recycling commodity markets around the world. As a result, the value of the recycling material collected in the county has declined,” Gabrowsky said.
Another ongoing problem for the county is glass.
Glass may seem like an easy material to reuse, but “single-stream” recycling systems like Arlington’s often shatter bottles. The result are mixed-up colored glass shards, which makes it difficult to separate from other recyclable materials.
County officials announced in October that Arlington might end glass recycling, but a spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Services said today that the county “is still studying the issue and has not made a decision on whether or not to remove glass from the recycling stream at this time.”
Today, he says the county is sending almost all the glass collected from people’s recycling bins to landfills. (Paper and plastics are still being recycled, Gabrowsky said.)
Glass from those two containers is shipped to Fairfax County where local officials are experimenting with a pulverization machine that smashes glass into sand they hope can be used to repair roads.
While the future of Arlington’s glass is uncertain, he said the county will “continue to collect the same recyclable material list, but would ask that residents adhere strictly to the list and not place items into the recycling cart that are not recyclable like plastic bags.”
More advice on recycling smart and reducing waste from DES, below:
- “By far the best way to manage our waste is to generate less waste to begin with. Consider reusing, repairing and donating items before you dispose them.”
- “Make sure food and beverage containers are empty and free from food and other residue before you place them into the blue cart. It is a good idea to do a quick rinse to containers that held anything that can spoil.”
- “When you recycle, include only correct materials. Leave out things like plastic bags, plastic foam cups and plates, food residue, liquids and miscellaneous garbage.”
- “To find out how to properly dispose of items, check out our Where Does It Go? directory.”
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
An alleged shooting threat briefly sent students practicing on a school field indoors tonight.
Good Wednesday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
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At Generation Hope, we’re dedicated to supporting teen parents in college as they work toward earning their degrees. We are in need of caring child care volunteers for upcoming events on Saturday, October 21st (in Washington, DC), and Saturday, November 4th (in Arlington, VA). Join our growing volunteer community and support us at an event this fall!
At all of our events, we provide free onsite child care for the children of the teen parents we serve, creating a nurturing environment for the kiddos while their parents learn valuable life skills and build community.
If you enjoy working with children and are looking to make an immediate impact in your community, please visit https://www.generationhope.org/volunteer to learn more.
Join us for Arlington’s biggest civil rights & social justice event of the year. The banquet is back in person at the Arlington Campus of George Mason University.
Our keynote speaker this year is Symone Sanders from MSNBC and former Chief of Staff for Vice-President Kamala Harris.
The Master of Ceremonies is Joshua Cole, former state delegate, NAACP President, and local pastor.
Tickets/seating are limited. Purchase your ticket today! Sponsorship opportunities available.
Live standup comedy starring John F. O’Donnell (Comedy Central)
Friday, October 20
Headliner: John F. O’Donnell
John was a correspondent on the radical comedy news TV show, “Redacted Tonight,” for 5 years. Recently, he released his debut one-hour standup special,