With much of the Arlington population confined to their homes, it’s little surprise that residents are generating more trash.
But the scale of the increase — more than 30% by weight — is straining the trash collectors, who are trying to stay on the job and stay healthy during the outbreak.
Over the weekend, Arlington County renewed its call for residents to try to limit their trash generation, if at all possible. That includes pausing any spring cleaning.
“Obviously a lot more people are home all day,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Peter Golkin told ARLnow. “They’re cleaning out more than usual, listening to their inner Marie Kondo as they stare at the walls and what’s piled up in front of them. They should indulge themselves with the couch and ARLnow and a few books and put off the big clean-ups for a few months.”
“The rise in trash left out for weekly collection has slowed the crews on the trucks of our contractor,” Golkin said, explaining why some residents may be seeing later than usual pickups. “[Crews] deserve great respect as they continue to do a vital job while facing increased health concerns and the other issues we’re all dealing with.”
The county has also suspended curbside bulk trash pickup and cancelled its popular spring E-CARE recycling and disposal event.
“Unfortunately, our spring 2020 E-CARE on April 18 has been canceled,” the county said. “Updates will be posted regarding an E-CARE event in the fall or later.”
Arlington’s residential trash collection serves all single-family homes, duplexes and some townhomes. Apartment and condo residents are served by private, commercial trash haulers.
The press release about the county’s call for less trash is below.
Curbside trash and recycling collection is an important service provided to ensure the health and safety of our community. Our crews play a critical role in providing these services, while balancing the same life and home challenges we all are facing during this time.
Over the last week, residential trash tonnage has increased more than 30%. The residential collection system is becoming stressed and we all need to do our part and limit the amount of trash, recycling and yard waste being placed out for collection.
To help ensure their health and safety and maintain our collection schedule, Arlington County is issuing additional guidance:
- Please minimize setting extra bags outside the cart.
- Keep your spring cleaning pile in your basement or garage for now.
- Flatten your cardboard boxes to create more room in your recycling bin
- If you have a large quantity of cardboard boxes, drop them off at one of our recycling drop-off centers.
- Drop off glass at one of our recycling drop-off centers instead of throwing it in the trash.
- Make an appointment and drop-off your household hazardous materials, now available Monday through Thursday (by appointment only. Call 703-228-5000 to schedule.)
- Grasscycle your lawn clippings.
Photo courtesy Arlington County
Public-Private Partnership for Pentagon City Planning — “County Board members on Jan. 25 approved a memorandum of understanding with the coalition of property owners in [Pentagon City], which will guide planning efforts and allocate $1.5 million – about two-thirds of it from the county government, the rest from landowners – to complete it. County Board Chairman Libby Garvey said the aim was a coordinated strategy for redevelopment of the target area, which totals about 85 acres.” [InsideNova]
APS Investigating Swastika Incident — “School officials launched an investigation this week after a student drew a swastika on a piece of paper and handed it to a classmate at a Northern Virginia middle school. The incident took place Tuesday at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Arlington, according to a letter that Principal Keisha Boggan sent parents Wednesday. The hate symbol was later reported to Arlington County police.” [Washington Post]
Industry Supporting Glass Drop-Off Program — “Glass Packaging Institute (GPI) members are partnering to create a circular economy for high quality recycled glass in Northern Virginia. O-I Glass, Inc. (O-I Glass) and Strategic Materials are teaming up to create strong markets for glass in the region through a new glass recycling drop-off program.” [Press Release]
Thanks, Arlington — Thank you to everyone who came out to our 10th anniversary party at Bronson Bierhall in Ballston last night. It was a packed house and we are incredibly grateful to have that kind of support from members of the community, local institutions like the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, local government, and our advertisers — who help support ARLnow and keep our local news free for all. We also met a few commenters and a few soon-to-be commenters last night (you know who you are). Finally, a big thank you to our current and former employees, whose tireless work has helped us reach this anniversary while growing to serve other communities in Northern Virginia.
As much as it seemed to make economic sense, the announcement last year that Arlington County would no longer recycle glass collected curbside struck many residents as wasteful.
But there is an emerging silver lining.
Fairfax County said this month that the glass coming from dedicated collection bins in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax County and elsewhere in Northern Virginia has been of sufficiently high quality that, in addition to being crushed and used as construction materials, some is now going to a processing facility and is being recycled into new glass products, like bottles and fiberglass.
More from a Fairfax County press release:
North America’s largest glass recycler, Strategic Materials, has begun transporting glass from our processing plant in Lorton to one of its recycling facilities. There, the glass will be processed and sold to manufacturers of a wide range of glass products. One such customer is Owens-Illinois, Inc. also known as O-I, which produces 3.6 million bottles a day at its bottle manufacturing plants in Danville and Toano, Va.
Glass collected in Virginia and recycled into glass bottles in Virginia closes the loop on the circular economy, a goal of sustainable communities. According to O-I, glass-to-glass recycling uses less energy than making bottles from original material, reduces carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and supports hundreds of jobs.
“This new market for our glass wouldn’t be possible without our residents,” said John Kellas, solid waste management program director. “They have adjusted their glass recycling habits and are filling up our purple cans almost faster than we can empty them. I appreciate their willingness to participate in the program and their patience as we identify additional drop-off locations and work through the logistics of the new collection routes.”
The quality and volume of clean glass resulted in the partnership with Strategic Materials, which is taking the glass before it’s crushed by the county’s “Big Blue” machine.
“Fairfax County probably has the highest quality of material we’ve seen in a drop-off program,” said Laura Henneman, vice president of marketing and communications for Strategic Materials. “The trial glass load was about 98 to 99 percent usable glass, which is incredible.”
The biggest problem with curbside glass recycling collection is that the glass is commingled with other materials — from recyclable paper, metal and plastic, to un-recyclable and contaminated materials that guilty residents “wish” could be recycled. The level of sorting needed to separate out the usable glass helps make it uneconomical, along with the fact that glass is a more resource-intensive material to recycle.
With a cleaner stream of glass, recycling is more feasible.
Arlingtonians can pat themselves on the back for their dedication to bringing glass to the county’s five drop-off sites. Residents dropped off more than 1 million pounds of glass at the bins in 2019, according to the county.
More on the “smashing success” of the glass recycling program, from Fairfax County:
Glass Recycling is a Smashing Success in NOVA, over 4 million pounds collected and recycled! Check out the video and podcast for more info https://t.co/ma7ttpopGQ Great teamwork @fairfaxcounty @alexandriavagov @ArlingtonVA @pwcgov
— Tony Castrilli (@TonyCastrilli) January 22, 2020
Christmas Tree Collection Underway — “Trees collected by the County the first two full weeks after Christmas are turned into mulch available from County facilities. From Dec. 30 through Jan. 10, place trees at curb no later than 6 a.m. on your regular trash collection day after removing ALL decorations, nails, stands. Do not place trees in plastic bags.” [Arlington County, Twitter]
Amazon Continuing to Hire for HQ2 — “By the end of 2020, Amazon plans to reach nearly 1,600 employees at the Arlington headquarters, and by December 2021 it expects more than 3,500 workers. The hiring will accelerate further in 2023 and beyond.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlingtonians Drop Off Tons of Glass — “Cheers to a successful start to Arlington’s glass recycling drop-off program. The County is closing out 2019 with more than 1 million pounds (500 tons) of collected glass for recycling in less than nine months. That’s equivalent to the weight of 27 ART buses.” [Arlington County]
Courthouse Apartments Trade Hands — “Bell Partners Inc., based in Greensboro, has acquired Vista on Courthouse, a 220-unit multifamily complex in Arlington, Virginia. The property will be renamed Bell at Courthouse and will be managed by Bell Partners. The acquisition from Equity Residential is Bell Partners’ second this year in Arlington.” [Triad Business Journal]
Reminder: NYE Events in Arlington — For procrastinators, here’s ARLnow’s listing of notable New Year’s Eve events in Arlington. [ARLnow]
Photo courtesy Dave Statter
Home Sale Prices Near HQ2 Drop — “Home prices in the neighborhoods where Amazon.com Inc. is setting up its second headquarters dipped to below pre-HQ2 prices for the first time since the company made the announcement just over a year ago. The median sale price for [the 22202 ZIP code] was $507,500 — a 12% drop from median prices in November 2018.” [Washington Business Journal, Twitter]
HQ2 May Help Balance Local Dating Scene — “For every 100 single, college-educated individuals in the Washington area, women outnumber men 53-47. And single women with college degrees are coming here at a faster clip than men in the same demographic, census data show… could Amazon’s expansion into Arlington import enough men to give some local women a statistically better shot at love?” [WAMU]
Big Emergency Response in Pentagon City — From Arlington County Police, regarding a large emergency response outside the Pentagon City mall around 8 p.m. last night: “Police responded to the report of a fight. One victim suffered minor injuries.” [Twitter, Twitter]
New Art Installation on ART Buses — “The latest Art on the ART Bus exhibit is up! The exhibit features seven letter-pressed placards that honor Arlington’s 60th anniversary of the seven lunch counter sit-ins from June 9 to June 22, 1960. The sit-ins were peaceful protests to challenge widespread segregation policies.” [Arlington Transit]
Nearby: Alexandria Also Ends Glass Recycling — “Alexandria will no longer collect glass curbside for recycling… Starting Jan. 15, if you’re hoping to get your glass recycled rather than just tossed out with the trash, you’ll have to take it down to the purple bins at one of four facilities in southern Alexandria.” [ALXnow]
Photo courtesy Dave Statter
Arlington County is holding is popular, biannual E-CARE recycling and disposal event this weekend.
The event — formally, the Arlington Environmental Collection and Recycling Event — provides Arlington residents an opportunity to safely dispose of bulky and hazardous items, from bikes to batteries, paint to printers.
The event is being held on Saturday, Oct. 19 from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at 1425 N. Quincy Street, across from Washington-Liberty High School.
The following are among the accepted items that can be dropped off by residents (business and commercial waste is not accepted).
- Automotive fluids
- 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
- Paint products (25-can limit)
- Photographic chemicals
- Poisons (pesticides)
- Printer ink/toner cartridges
- Propane gas cylinders (small hand-held or larger)
- Swimming pool chemicals […]
We’ll collect household devices containing mercury (thermostats, thermometers, sphygmomanometers, manometers, barometers, hygrometers and liquid mercury). CFLs will also be collected on site.
Bikes for the World will be accepting serviceable and repairable bikes to be sent to countries where they are needed for basic transportation. A $10 donation per bike is requested to offset shipping charges. Portable sewing machines, baseball and soccer equipment, and bike parts and accessories are also collected and shipped overseas with the reconditioned bikes. For more information, call 703-740-7856.
Small Metal Items
Acceptable small metal items include pots, pans, tools, pipes, venetian blinds, small appliances and metal items fitting an 11-1/2-inch by 46-inch opening.
Small metal items can also be dropped off at the Inert Materials and Scrap Metal Drop-Off Facility. Call 703-228-5000 for an appointment.
Computers, printers, keyboards, scanners, copiers, cellphones and televisions (no large wooden console TVs) will be collected. There is a fee only for televisions ($20) and computer monitors ($15) containing cathode ray tubes (CRTs). Cash, exact change please, or checks (made payable to Arlington County Treasurer) only. All other screen and monitor drop-offs are free.
The following are not accepted at the event.
- Explosives and ammunition
- Medical wastes
- Prescription medications
- Radioactive materials
- Smoke detectors
Arlington County is adding three new places to drop off glass for recycling, and more are potentially on the way.
With glass off the curbside recycling list, Arlington residents have been flocking to the county’s two existing glass drop-off sites at Quincy Park and the Arlington Trades Center, going out of their way to recycle more than 200 tons of glass since this spring.
Officials have been working to add more sites, to make drop-offs more convenient for those who don’t want to throw away glass bottles in the trash. At Tuesday afternoon’s County Board meeting, three new sites were announced.
“Those customized purple and green containers will be added to Aurora Hills Community Center, another site at the Cherrydale Branch Library, and a third one at the Lee Community Center,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz, adding that the new roll-off bins “should appear over the next two weeks.”
County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said during the meeting that “a few more” sites were needed, particularly in southern and central Arlington. More sites will come in time, Schwartz assured him.
County Board member Libby Garvey asked about the fact that the only way to deposit glass is via a few round holes in the side of the bins.
“People have to go bottle by bottle and they’ve found it frustrating to go slowly,” she said.
Schwartz explained that glass containers larger than bottles tend to cause problems in the recycling stream.
“Those holes are sized as they are — our analysis has shown that the larger containers of glass tend to be not as clean and pristine, people don’t spend time to clean them out,” Schwartz said. “Second, if you put those glass containers in, you’ll hear shattering… [the] holes are sized so that the glass doesn’t come back up.”
Glass dropped off at the bins is recycled and reused locally — sent to Fairfax County to be “crushed and turned into sand and gravel for use in paving, construction and landscaping,” according to Arlington County.
(Updated at 2 p.m.) Arlington residents have gone out of their way to chuck 200 tons of bottles and jars at a pair of drop-off locations since the County Board removed glass from the list of recyclable materials.
In April, county officials asked residents to throw their glass away in their black trash bins instead of blue recycling carts, citing the rising costs of recycling the material.
As an alternative, the county set up two designated glass drop-off sites at Quincy Park (N. Quincy Street and Washington Blvd) and the Arlington Trades Center (2700 S. Taylor Street). From there, the glass is transported to Fairfax County where it is turned into sand and gravel used in construction.
Schwartz said in April he hoped to identify three additional drop-off sites by August. The month has since passed, but officials say they’re close to announcing the new sites.
“I don’t want to jinx it, but it should be a matter of weeks,” said Peter Golkin, spokesman for the Department of Environmental Services. “We live in a tiny county where land is at a premium, so it’s a matter of making sure we can put the bins in a space where we can collect them with big trucks.”
Just over two-thirds of respondents to an ARLnow poll in May said they think Arlington should keep recycling glass in the residential recycling stream, no matter the cost. Some experts, however, say the cost of recycling glass outstrips the marginal environmental benefit compared to simply sending it to a landfill.
Update: Arlingtonians have recycled some 200 tons of bottles and jars since April when glass-only bins were placed at Quincy Park and the Trades Center. We're shattered/crushed at the discrepancy from yesterday. More drop-off sites coming quite soon. https://t.co/uVZRCYAdIg pic.twitter.com/aAYshppblJ
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) September 11, 2019
Flickr pool photo by Aaron Webb
(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) Unusual Decorations in Former Startup Office — “The walls were covered in ‘hundreds’ of framed detective and noir movie posters, bills and actor headshots, McAfee said. There was food still in the office fridge, wedding photos on the desks, and a sign that read “Danny” in an office that is presumed to have belonged to Trustify founder Danny Boice.” [Washington Business Journal]
Sen. Howell Recovering from Medical Scare — “State Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd) can thank an injured ankle for alerting her to the fact she needed life-saving heart surgery. Howell shattered her ankle in late July while hiking on some rocks on an island in Upstate New York’s Adirondack Mountains… Routine blood tests showed Howell had suffered a so-called “silent” heart attack that often strikes women.” [InsideNova]
ACFD Trains at Waterpark — “Members of our Water Rescue team were at Great Waves Waterpark today training with their counterparts from @AlexandriaVAFD. Members practiced their skills while getting more familiar with each team’s members & capabilities.” [Twitter]
Glass Recycling Drop-off Gripes — Since Arlington County announced that glass was to be thrown in the trash, rather than placed in the recycling cart, many residents have been opting for the second option: bringing glass bottles and jars to designated recycling drop-off centers. But the drop-off bins reportedly only allow you to insert one item at a time, which has led to frustration and mishaps. [Falls Church News-Press]
Local Senior Sails Solo to Bermuda — “Juan Perez didn’t let age affect his decision or performance when the sailor recently decided to return to his hobby of boat racing. The 85-year-old longtime Arlington resident and retired mechanical engineer purchased a sailboat – a 28-foot tartan – then sailed alone for one leg of the recent Bermuda One-Two race, from Newport, R.I., to St. George’s, Bermuda. He was the oldest competitor and had the smallest boat.” [InsideNova]
Polls Open for Democratic Primary — All Arlington voters can vote in today’s Democratic primary. Polls are open from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. You can find your polling place and other information on the state elections website. [Twitter]
Politico Profiles Prosecutor Primary — “One sign that this era of agitated civic life is not merely a reflection of Donald Trump or Twitter is that the agitation has penetrated, of all places, into Arlington County, Virginia. In normal times, Arlington politics are polite and consensus-driven, almost proudly dull.” [Politico]
Clarendon Street Closed for Construction — “Through mid-August: North Edgewood Street closed between Clarendon and Wilson boulevards due to construction. Absolutely no impact on Whole Foods organic produce or imported cheese selection.” [Twitter]
Trade Group Moving to Ballston — “The Infectious Diseases Society of America announced today that it will be relocating its headquarters to 4040 Wilson Boulevard in the Ballston Quarter area of Arlington, Va., a hub of advanced research learning, technology and science in the Washington, D.C. metro area. The Society has been at its current location at 1300 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington since 2006.” [PR Newswire]
How Glass Is Being Recycled — “Ever wonder where your glass goes? If you properly recycle it in Northern Virginia these days, it gets crushed into sand and turned into construction material… ABC7 recently took a trip to Fairfax County’s I-95 landfill in Lorton, where we found a glass graveyard and a big blue machine.” [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) Last month Arlington County announced that it would stop recycling glass collected curbside.
The decision, which only applies to the county’s residential recycling pickup and not to offices and apartment buildings, was explained as a matter of economics — it’s more expensive for the county to recycle glass than it is to incinerate and dispose of it in a landfill.
While recycling glass does save energy, it doesn’t save much compared to the more efficient aluminum, steel, paper and cardboard recycling processes. The cost to recycle glass isn’t worth the marginal energy savings, some say.
While there’s logic in that argument, some locals don’t like the idea of sending a recyclable material to landfills.
“If a community gives up glass, it is admitting defeat in the face of readily available alternatives,” said the writer of a letter published in the Sun Gazette.
The county does have an option for those who want their glass to be recycled, though it requires extra time and energy:
Alternatively, people can dump their glass at one of two designated drop-off locations — at Quincy Park (N. Quincy Street and Washington Blvd) or the Arlington Trades Center (2700 S. Taylor Street) — which carts it to Fairfax County for an experiment in paving roads with smashed up glass.
In a Facebook live chat yesterday, Erik Grabowsky, chief of Arlington’s Solid Waste Bureau, said the public outreach process about change is still ongoing and Arlington will continue collecting glass in recycling bins through the end of July.
The county has not been recycling glass residents placed in blue carts, according to Peter Golkin, spokesman for the Department of Environmental Services. Instead, it was being pulled at the material recovery facility and trashed.
“By putting glass in the black carts, it goes to Covanta where it’s melted (not incinerated) with trash and those results are landfilled, saving the whole transportation/sorting issues with the recycling process that does also have an economic aspect,” Golkin said, in an email.
What do you think about the county no longer recycling glass?