Arlington, VA

(Updated at 11:25 a.m.) If hazardous materials and old electronics have been piling up around your Arlington home, help is on the way.

Arlington County is relaunching its biannual Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE) after an extended pandemic hiatus. The event is scheduled to return on Saturday, May 22, from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at 1425 N. Quincy Street, across from Washington-Liberty High School

The twice-yearly event usually allows residents to dispose of their hazardous household materials, electronics, and large metal objects — though metal is out this go-round.

“They won’t be taking bikes and big/small metal things, from ducts to frying pans,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Peter Golkin. “Maybe by the fall.”

(An appointment-only drop-off at the Earth Products Yard near Shirlington remains an option for smaller metal scrap.)

E-CARE is only available for personal use — businesses and commercial waste should be disposed of elsewhere. Residents are also encouraged to combine their scrap to reduce total trips.

Accepted materials listed on the County website include:

  • Automotive fluids
  • Batteries
  • Car care products
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)
  • Corrosives (acids/caustics)
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Flammable solvents
  • Fluorescent tubes
  • Fuels/petroleum products
  • Household cleaners
  • Lawn and garden chemicals
  • Mercury
  • Paint products (25-can limit)
  • Photographic chemicals
  • Poisons (pesticides)
  • Printer ink/toner cartridges
  • Propane gas cylinders (small hand-held or larger)
  • Swimming pool chemicals

There are some limits, however, so be sure to leave your spare plutonium and uranium at home.

  • Asbestos
  • Explosives and ammunition
  • Freon
  • Medical wastes
  • Prescription medications
  • Radioactive materials
  • Smoke detectors

Electronics can be collected curbside on weekdays by special request submitted online, and can also be dropped off at the Electronic Collection and Recycling Center at Water Pollution Control Plant Gate 3 (531 31st Street S.).

Photo via Arlington County

0 Comments

Morning Notes

County Getting Paid for Glass Recycling — “Arlington’s glass recycling drop-off program continues to shatter expectations–surpassing 5 million pounds (2,500 tons) collected since its debut in 2019. And the effort is officially paying off. The County now receives $15 per ton for glass collected as the result of a new hauling and commodity contract with a Pennsylvania recycler.” [Arlington County]

VDOT’s Route 1 Proposal Bombs — “As a new vision for Crystal City’s portion of U.S. Route 1 comes into focus, local businesses, neighbors and the area’s dominant landlord are all becoming increasingly concerned… Renderings unveiled in a Virginia Department of Transportation meeting Wednesday night have united the National Landing Business Improvement District, JBG Smith Properties and some neighborhood activists in opposition over fears that the designs are still too car-centric.” [Washington Business Journal, Twitter]

Police Warn of Ongoing Scams — “The Arlington County Police Department is sharing information on common scams circulating in Arlington County and ways you can spot, avoid, and report them. The public should be particularly cautious of anyone calling, emailing, or interacting with them and requesting payment in the form of gift cards as this is often a red flag for fraud.” [ACPD]

Driver of Stolen Car Escapes — “At approximately 2:15 a.m. on March 3, a patrol officer observed a stolen vehicle traveling on S. Carlin Springs Road. Before a traffic stop could be initiated, the driver accelerated the vehicle and made evasive turns before pulling over and fleeing the scene on foot. A perimeter was established and officers, with aerial support from the Fairfax County Police Helicopter Division, conducted a search for the driver with negative results.” [ACPD]

New Race Planned Next Weekend — “Join Arlington For Justice and Black Parents of Arlington for the 1st Run For Her Life (Women’s Only) 5k WALK and YOGA Event… March 13, 2021 at 2 p.m.” [Facebook]

0 Comments

The Arlington County Board is going to consider adding food scraps collection to its solid waste services in the 2021-22 budget.

This change would allow residents to toss their food scraps with their yard waste in the existing green bins. All the organic material would be taken to a composting facility and the new service would cost less than $12 annually for those paying the household solid waste rate, according to county staff.

“We should have more information in the spring,” Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien told ARLnow in an email.

The county is mulling the move after being encouraged by positive community feedback. A majority of residents, surveyed in November and December, said they support mingling food scraps and yard waste. The survey garnered 3,973 respondents, of whom 79% supported the addition of food scraps to their organics carts, O’Brien said.

DES pushed out the feedback form to the household trash and recycling email list, which has about 27,575 people signed up for it, added DES spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.

“We believe there is a great support for the program — as evidenced by the feedback form and what we’ve heard through the years since introducing the green organics cart with year-round yard waste,” she said.

This potential service change would only be available to those who receive residential waste collection from the county — mostly people in single-family homes, as opposed to apartment and condo residents served by private waste haulers.

Currently, all county residents can drop off their scraps at Earth Products Recycling Yard in Shirlington (4300 29th Street S.) or the Columbia Pike Farmers Market on Sundays. The county also provides instructions for backyard composting.

Arlington’s quarterly trash audits have revealed that food scraps make up more than 20% of what residents throw out. According to the county’s website, collecting food scraps would support the county’s goal of diverting up to 90% of waste from incineration by 2038.

During the week, residents would collect their fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy in a countertop pail. Once the pail fills up, residents would place the scraps — bagged in paper or compostable bags — in their green organics cart and take it to the curb on trash pickup day.

To limit odors, staff recommend lining the pail with a bag, emptying it regularly and rinsing it occasionally. Freezing the scraps also reduces odors. Like the yard trimmings, food scraps will be brought to a permitted composting facility.

The County has collected grass clippings, cut flowers, brush, hedge trimmings and leaves year-round since 2016.

Photo (top) by The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

0 Comments

(Updated at 10:50 p.m.) Arlington County is trying to make its recycling service more efficient, and that means keeping items that don’t get recycled out of the stream.

In a pamphlet that’s being left for those served by the county’s waste collection contractor — mostly those in single-family homes — residents are urged to avoid putting “contaminants” in the blue recycling cart, even if they have a recycling logo.

What can be recycled can be simplified down to: (1) uncontaminated paper products, and (2) plastic and metal containers enclosed by bottle caps, lids or tabs.

A number of common materials are not usable by the company that processes Arlington’s recycling, and clutter the recycling stream before ultimately going to a landfill. According to pamphlet and other county guidance, those include:

  • Glass
  • Paper towels and greasy pizza boxes
  • Plastic bags including garbage bags (recyclables should be placed directly in the cart)
  • Plastic and padded envelopes, including those used by Amazon
  • To-go paper coffee cups, including Starbuck cups
  • Wrappers and single-use plastics like coffee lids, Solo cups and small yogurt containers
  • Foam containers and packing materials
  • Pots and pans

According to the pamphlet, the vast majority of what is recycled in Arlington — about 75% of material collected — is paper and cardboard. Metal items make up 5% and recyclable plastics are about 7%. The rest, as determined by a waste stream sort in the last quarter of 2020, is glass and other non-recyclable material.

Non-recyclable material in the recycling stream reduces the revenue the county receives from its recycling processor per ton of collected material, resulting in higher waste collection fees for residents, the pamphlet says. This spring the processor will examine a sample of the materials coming from Arlington to determine the rate the county will receive going forward.

0 Comments

(Updated at 9:50 a.m.) The following may ruin an important part of your holiday experience by revealing that a long-held belief held by many is, in fact, fiction.

But here’s the truth: the festive red paper cup containing your peppermint mocha is not recyclable, at least not in Arlington.

That’s the message from the county’s Dept. of Environmental Services, which posted the reminder on social media Monday morning.

“Festive? Definitely. Recyclable? Nope,” DES wrote. “The slick lining in single-use take-out coffee cups means they need to go in the trash. Alas, the tops too because of their mixed plastic.”

To be clear, this is not just an Arlington issue. Most recycling systems reject paper Starbucks cups due to the difficulty in separating the paper from the lining.

Disposable coffee cups, meanwhile, are not the only seemingly recyclable thing — complete with recycling logos — that is actually not recyclable in Arlington’s single-stream residential recycling collection.

Other things you can’t recycle in the blue bins include plastic bags — garbage bags, grocery bags, etc. — plus disposable Solo cups, shredded paper, paper plates and boxes soiled by food or grease, and styrofoam containers. Oh, and also glass, though that can be dropped off at purple bins around the county.

Arlington lists items that can be recycled on its website. The recycling “MVP” that is in high demand, according to the county, is aluminum products like cans, foil and trays.

Arlington’s residential recycling collection mostly serves single-family homes in the county. Those in condos and apartments are served by private haulers who may have different rules about what can and cannot be recycled.

Photo by Jasmin Schuler on Unsplash

0 Comments

Arlington County is looking at ways to make composting easier for residents.

County staff are considering a collection service that would allow residents to mix their food scraps with their yard trimmings for collection. They are asking residents to share their thoughts in a survey available through Friday, Dec. 4.

Quarterly trash audits reveal that food scraps make up more than 20% of the residential waste stream. Staff said collecting food scraps would support the County’s goal of diverting up to 90% of waste from incineration by 2038.

According to the County’s website, the weekly service would cost less than $12 annually, far less than the City of Falls Church, which charges $66, and the rates of private haulers, which charge up to $360.

“Many communities have successfully implemented food scraps collection programs in the manner proposed by the County,” the website said. “By implementing a food scrap collection program, residents would increase the County’s recycling rate, reduce the amount of County trash incinerated, create soil amendments and depending on individual actions, save money, reduce food waste, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

During the week, residents would collect their fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy in a countertop pail. Once the pail fills up, residents would place the scraps — bagged in paper or compostable bags — in their green organics cart and take it to the curb on trash pickup day.

To limit odors, staff recommend lining the pail with a bag, emptying it regularly and rinsing it occasionally. Freezing the scraps also reduces odors. Like the yard trimmings, food scraps will be brought to a ” Virginia-permitted composting facility certified by the U.S. Composting Council.”

The County has collected grass clippings, cut flowers, brush, hedge trimmings and leaves year-round since 2016.

(The service is available to those who receive residential waste collection from the county — mostly those in single-family homes. Apartment and condo residents are typically served by private waste collection haulers.)

“The year-round program has been very successful — so much so that the County is now considering the addition of leftover food scraps including fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy,” the county said.

Currently, all Arlingtonians can bring scraps to the Earth Recycling Yard at the Arlington County Trades Center from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Some farmers markets also recycle food scraps.

The County sees a food scrap collection service as a chance to educate people about reducing food waste and improving the environment.

In addition to saving households money, the County website on food scrap collection said there are other benefits to preventing food waste, including “learning to make better use of leftovers, minimizing spoilage by storing refrigerated and perishable items properly, and most importantly, that each of us has a direct role in reducing food waste both inside and outside the home.”

It listed several environmental benefits: reducing methane emissions from landfills, conserving energy, and reducing pollution.

Compost pail photo by The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

0 Comments

Have some pumpkins that you want to become compost? Paper that you want shredded? Rocks that you want out of your yard?

You’ll be able to do all three of those things at a single county-run event next month.

Arlington County is planning a free “Pumpkin Drop-Off, Free Paper Shredding & Inert Material Drop-Off” event on Saturday, Nov. 7, from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. It’s being held at the county’s Earth Products Yard near Shirlington (4300 29th Street S.).

“Unload that moldering pumpkin and have it become compost – just be sure to remove decorations, paint, etc.” says the county website.

The paper shredding is available for county residents only, with a limit of two boxes (up to 18″ by 11″ by 10″)  or paper bags per person. You can bring your paper with staples and paper clips, but magazines, catalogs, and phone book-sized material will not be accepted.

Inert material — asphalt, ceramic tiles, concrete, dirt, masonry blocks, rocks, and sand — will also be collected. Up to 3 cubic yards, or a small pickup truck load, will be accepted per person.

Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok

0 Comments

Arlington should consider glass-only curbside collection in order to boost its recycling rate, one of the companies that helps recycle the county’s bottles and jars says.

Jim Nordmeyer, vice president of sustainability at bottle maker O-I Glass, said in an interview that while Arlington’s current drop-off containers for glass have been effective, a dedicated collection truck would further increase glass recycling levels amid a drop in glass supplies.

“[Arlington has] a premium stream of glass that comes back into the container industry,” Nordmeyer said. “We’d like to encourage a lot more…. The best way [to do this] is at the curb, glass-only collection.”

By Nordmeyer’s estimates, there is approximately 14 million pounds of glass available for recycling in Arlington annually. If 70% of residents, the national average for curbside recycling, participated in a curbside glass recycling, then nearly 10 million pounds of glass could be collected annually.

In the first year of Arlington’s drop-off glass program, the county says it collected 2 million pounds of glass.

Arlington currently has five drop-off sites, following the removal of glass last year from its curbside recycling list. A rise in the cost of single-stream recycling, where all recyclables are put in the blue bin, was largely behind the move.

Kathryn O’Brien, a spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services, told ARLnow the county sees a dedicated curbside collection for glass as financially impractical.

“We have considered glass-only curbside collection and have determined that this option is cost prohibitive,” O’Brien said. “Our internal estimates are that adding curbside glass collection would increase the [Household Solid Waste Rate] by 15%-20%.”

The rate, which is paid by Arlington homeowners who receive curbside collection, is currently $26.58 a month. A 15-20% increase would add around an extra $5 per month, or $60 per year, to the bill.

Nordmeyer said the county can “offset the cost of that second [glass collection] truck with the savings they are getting from reduced fees at the material recovery facility and reduced fees in material going to the landfill.”

Boosting glass recycling levels is especially important after a sharp national decline at the start of the pandemic, Nordmeyer said.

With bars and restaurants shut down and material recovery centers closed to protect employees, glassmakers like O-I lost the recyclable material they rely on to make products. According to Nordmeyer, the average recycled content in each O-I container is around 35%.

O-I receives Arlington glass at its manufacturing plants in Danville and Toano, Virginia. The glass is first transported to Fairfax County from the drop-off bins, then it is taken by glass recycling company Strategic Materials. Once processed, the glass is sold to manufacturers like O-I.

Image via Arlington County

0 Comments

You probably know that glass is no longer recycled in Arlington, but do you know that recycling placed in garbage bags is automatically thrown away at the processing plant?

We sent ten questions people might have about what can and cannot get recycled to Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services earlier this month. The answers from the experts at the county’s Solid Waste Bureau are below.

For more information on Arlington’s curbside waste collection service, see county’s trash and recycling page. If you have any other questions, let us know in the comments.

1. If you place your junk mail directly into the recycling, will that be recycled?

Your junk mail (e.g., catalogues, letters, envelopes) is what is known as “mixed paper” and will be recycled if placed in your recycling cart. One way to reduce junk mail intake: https://recycling.arlingtonva.us/catalog-choice/.

2. Do you need to remove the plastic tape from cardboard boxes in order for it to be recycled?

You do not need to remove the plastic tape from cardboard boxes prior to placing them in your bin. However, packing slips and their plastic envelopes should be removed. Also, please flatten all cardboard boxes and try to fit them all into the blue curbside recycling cart. If you have many such boxes, you can take them to the Quincy or Trade Centers recycling drop-off sites and place them inside the very large bins.

3. If there’s some food left on a container after rinsing it, can it still be recycled?

All materials should be clean, dry and empty before being placed in the recycling bin. Reducing food contamination in the recycling stream helps ensure that materials can be recycled into new products. Although you don’t need to scrub or run food containers through the dishwasher before placing them in the recycling cart, all food debris should be removed. A simple wash or wipe with a paper towel is usually sufficient.

4. Can soiled cardboard, like pizza boxes, be recycled?

Very soiled cardboard including pizza boxes cannot be recycled and should be placed in the trash. Relatively clean pizza boxes can be recycled.

5. Can you put recyclables right in the cart? Or should they all be bagged?

Recyclables should ALWAYS be placed loose and directly into the cart. They should NEVER be bagged. Recyclables in bags will be disposed of as trash at the recycling sorting facility. Even empty, plastic bags should never go in the recycling cart.

Read More

0 Comments

One of Arlington’s glass recycling bins is being moved to improve access to those in the far northern reaches of the county.

The drop-off bin in the Cherrydale library parking lot, which has been there since last fall, is being moved to the Madison Community Center  (3829 N. Stafford Street) later this week.

“The new glass recycling drop-off bin will be available starting at 9 a.m. on Friday,” the county said. “The location of this site, along with the County’s four other glass drop-off sites, allows for glass drop-off centers to be available within 2.25 miles of all County residents. Convenience is an important component in making recycling drop-off centers successful.”

The county’s other purple glass drop-off bins are located at:

  • Quincy Park (N. Quincy Street and Washington Blvd)
  • Shirlington Trades Center (2700 S. Taylor Street)
  • Aurora Hills Community Center (735 18th Street S.)
  • Lee Community Center (5722 Lee Highway)

Glass was removed from Arlington’s curbside recycling collections last year, but residents have flocked to the bins in order to keep their bottles and jars out of landfills.

“In just a year, our community has recycled over 2 million pounds of glass and we hope to continue the success of the program together,” the county said.

Much of the glass collected by the bins is sent to Fairfax County to be crushed and used as construction material, but some has been sent to a processing plant and turned into new glass products.

0 Comments

While Arlington is celebrating a new high in drop-off glass recycling, after discontinuing the recycling of glass collected curbside, a pair of local brothers have set up their own business to fill a gap in the market.

In a local Facebook group, Joe Core said he and his brother — both college students — would pick up glass from people’s homes to take it to one of Arlington’s drop-off glass recycling bins for $7. The service is contact-free, reducing the risk of spreading disease through in-person contact.

“The idea came about as my brother and I began to recycle our own family’s glass at Quincy Park and realized it was easy for us to drive just down the street and do it,” Core said, “but for many people it may be something they wouldn’t want to go out of their way to do but rather pay someone else to do.”

Core and his brother are hoping to make some extra money during the pandemic while filling a community need.

“The transition from an idea to business occurred when my brother and I realized how boring quarantine could be and that we should use our time to make money rather than just sitting around,” Core said. “From then we put out advertisements and reached out to family friends to get our business going.”

The services can be booked online, by calling 703-517-9031 or through email at [email protected]

So far, Core said business has been decentm with a decent base of regular customers. There hasn’t been any feedback from the county so far about the business, he said.

“We haven’t gotten a response from the county yet but we have been active users of the glass recycling centers and are thankful for the centers which give us a place to recycle,” Core said.

The brothers typically do two or three pickups a day, according to Core, and it’s usually a plastic storage bin worth of glass, but sometimes it’s two or three containers per customer.

At this point, we’ve kind of hit a plateau in terms of acquiring new customers, but are trying to figure out new ways to advertise our services,” Core said. “We are also looking into building relationships with apartment complexes to do larger community pickups.”

Image via Arlington County

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list