Amazon’s Helipad in Doubt — Amazon requested that it be able to build a helipad at both of its new campuses, in Crystal City and New York City. But it’s unlikely that the company will be able to win approval for operating a private helicopter in the restricted airspace around Washington. [WAMU]
Wawa Looks to NoVa — “‘Fairfax County and Northern Virginia is a really important market for us,’ Wawa CEO Chris Gheysens was quoted as saying… ‘We are looking at strategically bending our store model to get more access to that area and plan to announce some openings in that area coming up.'” [Tysons Reporter]
Metro Holiday Schedule — Metro is operating on a reduced schedule today and tomorrow, as well as New Year’s Day. It will operate on a regular weekday schedule on New Year’s Eve, with special late night service until 2 a.m. [WMATA]
Christmas Is a Recycling Nightmare — “Your holiday wish list – or at least what it comes wrapped in – may be causing big problems for recyclers. ‘It surprises a lot of people,’ Arlington County Solid Waste Bureau Operations Manager Shani Kruljac said. Here’s the deal: a bunch of holiday-related stuff you may assume is recyclable actually isn’t.” [Fox 5]
APS Seeking Nominations for Top Cross Guards — “Arlington Public Schools is asking the public to consider nominating local crossing guards for Virginia’s Most Outstanding Crossing Guards competition… Nominations are open through Jan. 25.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Firms Awarded Federal Contracts — Ballston-based CACI has been awarded “a prime position” on a $12.1 billion U.S. Army information technology contract. Meanwhile “DTS, a small business in Arlington, Virginia, has won a $2.6 million contract with the Fish & Wildlife Services to provide IT program management and change management services.” [BusinessWire, Washington Technology]
Get ready to start raking in the leaves: the county’s leaf collection starts next Monday (Nov. 12) for some neighborhoods and continues through mid-December.
The vacuum truck will operate Mondays through Saturdays, except for Thanksgiving, and will complete two sweeps on a set neighborhood schedule. The first pass runs from Nov. 12 to Dec. 4. Immediately afterward the second collection pass begins and run until Dec. 20.
Look for yellow signs posted three to seven days ahead of the first pass and then orange signs for the second one. Leaves should be at the curb at the start of the collection window and stay there until they are collected.
Residents can prepare for leaf collection by raking leaves to the curb — and away from storm drains and water meter covers — the weekend before the scheduled collection. The brochure reminds residents to remove stones, branches, litter and other debris from the pile and to reduce fire hazards by not parking cars on leaf piles.
Residents can also recycle leaves by placing them in green organics carts or paper yard bags at the curb by 6 a.m. for pickup on regular trash collection days. The weight cut off is 50 pounds for bags and 200 pounds for carts. The recycled leaves become nutrient-rich mulch that residents can pick up for free either at the Solid Waste Bureau near SHirlington or near Marymount University at 4712 26th Street N.
The county will not collect leaves in plastic bags.
“Yard trimmings collected in Arlington County are composted and used to make top soil for use in county projects. Plastic bags and other inorganic materials contaminate the end product,” a blurb on a county brochure reads.
The county’s free bag distribution started last week (Oct. 29) and runs until Jan. 18 while supplies last at the following locations:
- Aurora Hills Community Center, 735 18th Street S., 703-228-5715
- Courthouse Plaza, 2100 Clarendon Blvd, 703-228-3000
- Lee Community Center, 5722 Lee Hwy, 703-228-0552
- Long Branch Nature Center, 625 S. Carlin Springs Road, 703-228-6535
- Madison Community Center, 3829 N. Stafford Street, 703-228-5310
- Solid Waste Bureau, 4300 29th Street S., 703-228-6570
- Thomas Jefferson Community Center, 3501 2nd Street S., 703-228-5920
Flickr pool photo via wolfkann
If your jack-o-lantern is starting to get a bit droopy now that Halloween has come and gone, Arlington is offering an eco-friendly solution.
The county is offering to compost pumpkins for free this Saturday (Nov. 3). Anyone interested in recycling their gourd simply needs to drop it off at the county Trades Center at 4300 29th Street S., any time between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Officials simply ask that only Arlington residents take advantage of the service, and that people remove any decorations, candles, paint or other “inorganic materials” before dropping off their pumpkins. The county won’t accept pumpkins from any commercial establishments, either.
The county’s Solid Waste Bureau plans to use the composted pumpkins in Arlington’s “parks and other landscaping endeavors,” according to the county’s website.
Anyone who misses the weekend drop-off can also compost their gourds by using the Trades Center’s normal “food scraps” drop-off, which is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.
Arlington officials are increasingly finding that recycling some items has become a bit of a pain in the glass.
The county is encouraging residents to recycle metal, plastics, paper and cardboard like always, but people could soon be discouraged from adding glass to the mix.
“The county is conducting an analysis on glass and will likely suggest removing it from household and county facilities recycling streams,” said Katie O’Brien, a spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services. “We anticipate sharing our findings and providing guidance to residents in mid-to-late November.”
While Arlington pays $4.66 per ton to process recycled materials, compared to $43.16 per ton to dispose of trash. The cost of recycling is typically offset by the sale of those raw materials. But the difficulties of glass recycling mean the material disproportionately weighs down the total value of Arlington’s haul.
According to a newsletter put out by the Department of Environmental Services, glass comprises 22.4 percent of recycled goods in Arlington but is the only material that comes in at a negative value for Arlington on the recycled material market. Aluminum cans are valued at $1,520 per ton while glass’s recycle value is negative $12.50.
The high cost comes from the lack of nearby facilities able to process glass and the high cost of separating it from other recycled materials. In meetings with the County Board, County Manager Mark Schwartz said most of the collected glass is already incinerated or sent to a landfill despite being marked for recycling.
In the meantime, Arlingtonians are encouraged to seek aluminum containers for beverages first, plastic bottles second and to avoid glass if possible.
Photo via Department of Environmental Services
Everyday Heroes in Our Midst — On Wednesday morning, a grounds crew working outside the Clarendon Metro took some time out to help a disabled man to the bus stop. “Hey @ArlingtonDES @ArlingtonVA, a little late here but please forgive your grounds crew working near the #Clarendon metro this morning if they were running a little late,” said the Twitter user who witnessed the encounter and snapped a photo. [Twitter]
Body Found in Water Near Memorial Bridge — “D.C. police have recovered a body found Thursday morning in the Potomac River near Arlington Memorial Bridge, near the Lincoln Memorial, according to a department spokeswoman.” [Washington Post]
Glass to Be Removed from Recycling List? — “The county government appears on the verge of eliminating collection of glass as recyclable material and directing residents to instead dump it in their regular trash bins… currently, there is a ‘negative market value’ for glass, County Manager Mark Schwartz told board members, and because it’s difficult for processors to recycle glass products, most of it ends up being destroyed like regular trash anyway – either to a landfill or to be incinerated.” [InsideNova]
County May Reopen Exit for DCA Rideshare Drivers — “Arlington County officials have offered a solution to the gridlock caused by rideshare drivers moved to a parking lot between Jefferson Davis Highway and South Eads Street: Reopening an exit at 27th Street, which would allow rideshare drivers accepting passengers to quickly leave the lot and turn onto the nearby airport access road.” [WTOP]
Cosplay Event at Library — “Join Maker and cosplayer Dylan Smith as he discusses how he’s incorporated 3D printing into cosplay, what materials he’s used, and how you can get started. This event is designed for adults and teens in grades 6+.” [Arlington County]
Mobile Posse Launches New Product Line — Arlington-based Mobile Posse has “announced the release of Firstly Mobile… the company’s latest next-gen content discovery platform, [which] creates a smarter smartphone experience for consumers, a safer brand experience for advertisers and a bigger revenue opportunity for carriers and OEMs.” [Globe Newswire]
Hungry Donates Thousands of Meals — HUNGRY, an Arlington-based food startup, “has donated funds equivalent to more than 70,000 meals to Washington, D.C.-area and Philadelphia-area food assistance centers, including Feeding America and the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). HUNGRY donates funds equivalent to one meal for every two purchased to those in need via its ‘Fight Against Hunger’ program.” [PRWeb]
Photo via @USArmyOldGuard
Fire at Retirement Home — A fire broke out in the laundry room of the Sunrise at Bluemont Park senior assisted living facility Sunday morning. The blaze was quickly extinguished, but not before filling part of the building with smoke. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]
Serious Crash on Arlington Blvd — Arlington County police investigated a crash involving critical injuries and a reported vehicle rollover last night on Route 50 at N. Pershing Drive. One person was transported to a local hospital. [Twitter]
DEA Staying in Pentagon City — “A federal judge has ruled against an Alexandria building owner’s efforts to lure the Drug Enforcement Administration from Pentagon City… Judge Loren Smith’s judgment, issued Thursday, effectively clears the way for the General Services Administration to award a new lease for the DEA to CSHV Lincoln Place LLC, the agency’s current landlord at 600-700 Army Navy Drive.” [Washington Business Journal]
Dragonfly Population Booming — “Your eyes are not deceiving you – there really are more dragonflies (and their cousins, damselflies) in the local area this summer. And according to Arlington naturalists, that’s a good thing.” [InsideNova]
No, Arlington’s Recycling Program Is Not Ending — Apparently a rumor has been circulating that Arlington County was ending its recycling program. A local TV station fact checked that and found, unsurprisingly, that the rumor is not true. [WUSA 9]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
The conservationists with Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment are celebrating the group’s 40th anniversary by adopting a new name: EcoAction Arlington.
The group made the change official on Earth Day, April 22, but executive director Elenor Hodges says the rebranding has been in the works for the last year-and-a-half or so.
“We’ve moved a little beyond just working toward a clean environment,” Hodges told ARLnow. “1978 was a different time.”
Those behind the newly christened EcoAction Arlington have worked for decades to organize environmentally-focused community initiatives, like programs to help people save energy at home or move to solar power. But Lydia Cole, the group’s communications manager, felt the organization just wasn’t reaching younger Arlingtonians and needed a bit of a change.
“People who’ve engaged with ACE in the past were part of the baby boomer generation, or Generation X,” Cole said. “Now, there are lots of millennials, lots of young professionals in Arlington, but we’re not getting many of them. So that was our focus in how we approached our new name. They’re going to be the future.”
The group’s leaders first started mulling a name change in earnest as they worked to overhaul the organization’s strategic plan three years ago. As the group charted out a new direction, Cole says it also wanted a name that better reflects its goals.
“ACE definitely spoke to who we were and some of what we do, but it didn’t speak at all to how we go about doing it,” Cole said.
Cole worked together with a graphic designer to brainstorm possible new names and logos, and compiled a list of about 20 or 30 possibilities. She says they even convened a focus group to sort through some of those options to whittle down the list even further.
Ultimately, the group’s board of directors opted for “EcoAction” because it conveyed their desire to focus on “action-oriented events and activities” centered on the environment.
For example, in the coming months EcoAction will be launching a drive encouraging people to use less plastic in their homes. By the fall, Hodges also hopes to start working with Arlington restaurants to convince them to abandon plastic straws. With those new programs and the new name, she aims to pull in a younger crowd sooner rather than later.
“Just being able to find us more easily, I think, will help, as well as increasing opportunities to get involved,” Hodges said. “If picking up trash isn’t your thing, we’ll have options for you.”
Photo via EcoAction Arlington
If you live in a single-family home in Arlington, the trash you put out for collection each week eventually comes back to you — in the form of electricity.
While the Arlington recycling rate is nearly 50 percent, well above the national average of about 35 percent, that means that there still is plenty of garbage to deal with. All that waste has to go somewhere and much of it ends up at a waste-to-energy plant in Alexandria, near the Van Dorn Street Metro station, that Arlington jointly owns with the city.
Covanta, the company that operates the facility, estimates that they process 975 tons of solid waste per day, distributed among the three 325 ton-per-day furnaces on-site, preventing it from ending up in a landfill.
“In some ways, the U.S. can be seen as a third-world country, with the way we’re putting garbage in landfills,” said James Regan, Covanta’s media director.
Arlington and Alexandria’s municipal waste goes through an emissions-controlled incinerator, where the controlled fire reaches temperatures just under 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The fire boils water, which in turn generates steam and, through that, electricity.
That generates about 23 megawatts of baseload power, according to Regan, enough to power about 20,000 homes.
Emissions are monitored throughout the processes, with a few-dozen-or-so knobs, buttons and devices each focused on a different aspect of the process.
With all the capabilities, however, the control room’s goal is threefold: to monitor multiple security camera feeds in case of the occasional, small fire in the trash pit; to monitor temperatures in the combustion chamber; and pollution monitoring and emissions controls.
The combustion has led to a 90 percent reduction of waste by volume, which the company says offsets, on average, one ton of carbon dioxide equivalent for each ton of waste processed.
Both ferrous and non-ferrous metals are able to be extracted from the combustion and recycled, and Covanta is currently developing ways to reuse ash “as aggregate for roadways and construction materials.”
The facility has been burning trash since February 1988, according to Bryan Donnelly, the Arlington/Alexandria facility manager.
Prior to that, there was another incinerator, but it didn’t have the emissions controls or metal recovery program that the current waste-to-energy plant has.
New plants can cost as much as $500 million, but tend to be much larger than Arlington’s plant, which is only four acres — the smallest operated by Covanta. Most other plants are closer to 24 acres, according to Regan.
He estimates that this facility, in today’s dollars, would have cost about $200 million.
“We’re not saying take everything to [a waste-to-energy] facility,” said Regan. “We’re saying, let’s recycle more, to 65 percent. Let’s reduce the amount of landfill that [the U.S.] is doing,”
Exterior view via Google Maps
Arlington’s twice yearly Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE) is will return later this month.
The event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 31, at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd). The event, which will run from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., allows county residents to dispose of hazardous household materials, bikes, shoes, small metal items, clothing and other items that can be recycled but not through normal pick up.
Residents planning on dropping off household hazardous materials must bring the items in the original containers or in properly labelled storage. Leaking containers must also be packed in a way to prevent spilling.
Nonhazardous trash and business waste will not be accepted. Residents need to bring identification to verify residency.
The following materials are 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)
- Propane gas cylinders (small hand-held or larger)
- Swimming pool chemicals
The following material are not accepted:
- Explosives and ammunition
- Medical wastes
- Prescription medications
- Radioactive materials
- Smoke detectors
Photo by Peter Golkin
Arlington’s recycling rate rose to 48.5% in 2017, up slightly from 2016. The county credits the rise to its implementation of year-round, weekly curbside yard waste collection for homes and duplexes.
The recycling rate was 46.8% in 2016 and 44.5% in 2015, the year that year-round collection was unanimously approved by the County Board. The project was expected to divert up to 9,000 tons of compostable materials from regular trash collection. It came with a $47 per-year price tag for Arlington homeowners.
Arlington’s 2016 recycling rate was well above the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2014 national estimate of 34.6%.
The amount of yard waste that was thrown in the trash plummeted from 26% to 5%, according to the 2017 Arlington County Annual Report.
An Arlington County Board recommendation cited a September 2015 survey which found that 70% of single-family home Arlington residents believed that increasing the county’s recycling rate was important. There were 4,283 survey participants. The survey also asked whether or not those residents supported year-round yard waste collection despite the additional cost, to which 60% indicated that they did support the initiative.
In 2017, Virginia’s Dept. of Environmental Quality awarded Arlington a bronze medal for the year-round yard waste collection as part of the governor’s environmental excellence awards.
Photo courtesy of Dennis Dimick
While regular batteries made of zinc carbon and alkaline can be thrown away, rechargeable batteries must be recycled, otherwise they might burn in the trash or cause ecological issues.
To prevent a possible a fire at home, rechargeable batteries along with lithium, silver oxide and mercury batteries can be dropped off at the following locations in Arlington:
- Best Buy (Pentagon City) – 1201 S. Hayes St., Suite B
- Fire Station 1 (Glebe Road) – 500 S. Glebe Road
- Fire Station 2 (Ballston) – 4805 Wilson Blvd.
- Fire Station 4 (Clarendon) – 3121 10th St. N.
- Fire Station 5 (Jefferson District/Aurora Highlands) – 1750 S. Hayes St.
- Fire Station 7 (Fairlington) – 3116 S. Abingdon St.
- Fire Station 8 (Lee Highway) – 4845 Lee Highway
- Fire Station 9 (Walter Reed) – 1900 S. Walter Reed Drive
- Fire Station 10 (Rosslyn) – 1559 Wilson Blvd.
- Households Hazardous Material Facility – 530 31st St. S.
At the fire station, residents can just hand over their batteries to fire personnel at the building’s entrance or, where available, place the batteries in an orange collection bin outside the station.
In order to drop off the batteries at the Household Hazardous Material Facility, an appointment must be scheduled between Monday and Friday, according to the county website. Residents can drop off materials without an appointment on Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Other nearby battery recycling locations, according to Call2Recycle, include Home Depot and Lowe’s stores, along with Falls Church city government headquarters at 300 Park Avenue.
Bar Owner Trolled By ‘Catfish’ Account — Someone is impersonating Scott Parker, co-owner of A-Town, Don Tito, Barley Mac and G.O.A.T., on social media, in an apparent attempt to damage his reputation. The “catfish” recently sent a journalist a profanity-laced rant that encouraged her to kill herself. [Washingtonian, Twitter]
Columbia Pike Water Main Break — Crews are currently working to repair a water main break on the 5500 block of Columbia Pike. The street is partially blocked and some 50-100 water customers have their service affected by the break. [Twitter]
Local Mother Grapples With Son’s Mental Illness — “The night of March 31, 2017, he became so inconsolable, screaming and weeping, that she called the police and had him involuntarily hospitalized at an Arlington hospital. He stayed two weeks, but because he is an adult, and because a hospital must release people from involuntary care when it no longer believes they meet commitment standards, doctors discharged him.” [Washington Post]
Wardian Strikes Again — “A little over a week ago, [ultramarathoner Michael] Wardian pulled off one of his most challenging back-to-backs yet, running the Pikes Peak Marathon, featuring 7,815 feet of elevation gain and an equal amount of loss on a rugged mountain course that tops out at 14,115 feet – in 6 hours, 2 minutes and 55 seconds, mere hours after finishing tenth in the Leadville 100 in 20 hours, 18 minutes and 57 seconds.” [Medium]
County Testing New ‘ePlan’ Payments — Arlington County is seeking users to test its new electronic payments system for those filing Building Permits, Land Disturbing Activity (LDA) Permits and Civil Engineering Plans (CEP) online. The system is likely to be seen as progress by those who have previously critiqued the county’s cumbersome permitting process. [Arlington County]
Last Call for Christmas Tree Recycling — Friday is the last day for recycling Christmas trees via curbside pickup in Arlington. ‘Recycled’ trees will be turned into mulch. [Arlington County]
For those already looking forward to the end of the holidays, Arlington County’s Christmas tree collection program begins in early January.
The program goes through the first two weeks in January, from January 2-12.
“Residents are reminded to place the tree on the curb no later than 6 a.m. on your regular trash collection day and to remove all decorations, nails, stands and plastic bags,” a blurb on the program reads. “The trees are later ground into wood mulch for garden use.”
Anyone who does not have a curbside recycling service can bring their Christmas trees to the Solid Waste Bureau during the collection season.
The following letter was written by Ryan Bloom, Chloe Fugle, Maria McGlone and Ethan Novak, student board members of Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment.
A little-noticed Arlington County government report that was issued during hurricane season should be read as a call for action on a local issue that concerns a growing number of public school students and other Arlingtonians: recycling efforts in our public schools.
The September report by the County Solid Waste Bureau (SWB) concluded that, while Arlington County as a whole has a recycling rate of 46.8 percent, the rate for Arlington Public Schools (APS) is estimated to be 15 percent. This is below the minimum recycling rate of 25 percent mandated by the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The 15 percent estimate for APS recycling is not surprising given our observations and those of the SWB in school cafeterias, hallways and classrooms. SWB reported that 70 percent of schools are not fully compliant with County recycling code; even almost two years after the code came into effect.
For example, schools’ recycling bins sometimes lack clear, explanatory signs and these bins are often not co-located with trash bins. The result is often confusion about what goes in what particular bin resulting in students and teachers tossing both recyclables and trash in the nearest container.
The SWB reports that few schools have a successful cafeteria recycling system, which is the likely result of a “… lack of clear administrative standards and policies concerning a recycling culture campus-wide.”
Our public schools should be a model for effective stewardship practices, rather than a source of embarrassment. Students develop lifelong habits based on what they see and are taught in their homes, schools and communities.
Moreover, taxpayers benefit from effective recycling practices since disposing of trash is typically more expensive than recycling. The County Board has resolved to achieve “zero waste” by 2038, which will only be achieved if our families and institutions, including APS, take action today and implement an effective recycling system fully compliant with County recycling code.
- Ryan Bloom, Arlington, Student Board Member, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment
- Chloe Fugle, Arlington, Student Board Member, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment
- Maria McGlone, Arlington, Student Board Member, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment
- Ethan Novak, Arlington, Student Board Member, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment
ARLnow.com occasionally publishes letters about issues of local interest. To submit your thoughts for consideration, please email [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.
Delays on Blue, Orange Lines Due to Person Struck — A person was struck by a train at the L’Enfant Metro station around 9:30 this morning. The incident is causing delays on the Blue and Orange lines, as service has been suspended between L’Enfant and Federal Center. Silver Line trains are operating between Wiehle and Ballston. [Twitter, Twitter, Washington Post]
Reminder: E-CARE Event This Weekend — Arlington County is holding its biannual Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE) on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. This time around the venue has changed; the recycling and hazardous household materials collection event is now being held at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd). [Arlington County]
Scott Disick Comes to Arlington, Disses ARLnow — Updated at 12:10 p.m. — Reality TV personality Scott Disick lorded over the grand opening ceremony for Sugar Factory in Pentagon City last night. About 100 people, mostly young women, showed up for the event, according to an ARLnow employee on the scene. Disick did interviews with local news outlets, but PR reps cut off the interviews and ushered Disick away just as our employee was next in line. [Twitter, Facebook, Daily Mail]
Kirwan’s Opens to Big Crowds — Mark Kirwan, owner of Samuel Beckett’s in Shirlington, may have another hit on his hands. His new bar, Kirwan’s on the Wharf in Southwest D.C., was packed last night before the Foo Fighters concert at the Anthem. [Facebook]
Courthouse Plaza Parking Lot Closed Sunday — The county’s Courthouse Plaza parking lot will be closed most of the day Sunday for the 2017 Animal Welfare League of Arlington Pints 4 Paws event. [Arlington County]
Marymount Makes USNWR Top Tier — “Marymount University is once again in the top tier among Regional Universities in the South in several categories, ranking 52nd overall in the 2018 edition of ‘Best Colleges’ by U.S. News & World Report.” [Marymount University]
AIRE Wins Regional Award — The Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy was among this year’s recipients of the Climate and Energy Leadership Awards from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. AIRE’s Energy Lending Library “makes it easy to check out a thermal camera, a box of 10 different LED bulbs, energy meter, and Do-It-Yourself energy retrofit books through the library system free of charge,” notes COG. [Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman