Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

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

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(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?

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By Lindsey Wray

Whether you’re spring cleaning or applying the popular KonMari method to your home, think twice before overloading your trash can with unwanted items. Arlington offers lots of options for disposing of things that no longer spark joy, and they have nothing to do with the landfill.

Marie Kondo’s popular KonMari tidying process suggests keeping only items that “spark joy,” as described in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and in the recent Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

But just because items don’t work for you anymore doesn’t mean you can’t find another use for them somewhere else.

Here’s how:

Electronics

Dispose of cellphones, computers, printers, keyboards, etc., at Arlington’s Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE), held twice each year. The next E-CARE is this coming Saturday, May 4, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at 1425 N. Quincy Street. The event is free, but there is a charge to recycle televisions and computer monitors.

Clothing

Rather than taking all of your excess closet items to the Goodwill, consider finding other homes for them — and maybe making a bit of cash in the process. List newer items on Nextdoor to keep them right in your neighborhood, eliminating the cost and environmental impact of shipping. Not up for the hassle of managing the sales yourself? Get a free Clean-Out Kit from the virtual thrift store ThredUp, and mail in gently used items for resale or donation.

Books

If your bookshelves are buckling, find a few books you’re ready to part with and drop them at an Arlington library. Libraries also accept CDs, DVDs, and board games.

Papers

Although mixed paper (cardboard, magazines, newspapers, office paper, etc.) is collected in Arlington County’s curbside recycling program, if you’re getting rid of a lot at once, you may want to consider taking a load to a drop-off center. Find these at Quincy Park, N. Quincy Street and Washington Blvd, or Trades Center, 2700 S. Taylor Street.

If your hard-copy files from 10 years ago no longer spark joy, let Arlington shred them for you. The County offers limited paper shredding for residents on the first Saturday of each month at 4300 29th Street S. For the website details and allowable items.

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Arlington County is asking residents to trash glass, following a vote by the County Board last night.

Board members passed an amendment to the county code allowing the County Manager to delete materials from the list of what Arlington recycles. The move was made to allow County Manager Mark Schwartz to remove glass from the list after officials said it had become too expensive to recycle.

The county says in a press release that those who receive residential trash and recycling pickup service in Arlington should throw away glass in their black trash containers instead of the blue recycling bins. That will make things easier for the county’s recycling processor, which is currently sending glass to landfills.

The new county directive does not apply to those in offices, apartments and other commercial properties, whose waste collection is handled by private contractors.

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.

“The County anticipates establishing additional drop-off locations to make it more convenient for residents, though no specific sites are yet under consideration,” said the county’s press release. “Glass that customers deposit in their black trash carts will be processed at the Covanta Waste-to-Energy facility in Alexandria where it will be incinerated and turned into electricity.”

The county’s “single-stream” recycling systems often shatter glass, which then mixes up different-colored shards and reduces its value, Arlington’s chief of solid waste Erik Grabowsky previously told ARLnow.

Recouping lost value is also harder than ever because of China’s decision to stop accepting some recycling materials, which led Arlington’s recycling costs to rise from $15.73 per ton to $28.62 per ton in the last six months, according to Grabowksy.

“We do have to come to grips with the fundamental reality that we are living in a fraudulent experience,” said Board Chair Christian Dorsey last night. “Because every time we put glass in our blue containers it’s not doing what we expect that it does. It’s being put in a landfill which is contrary to what we want, and not only that, but it’s costing us more money to do it.”

Grabowsky said that removing glass will lower the county’s overall recycling rate this year by 1 percent.

The good news, he says, is that the current recycling rate is 50.1 percent — a number already exceeding the county’s goal to recycle 47 percent of waste by 2024.

Now Grabowksy and the county want people to think about buying less glass, and finding ways to re-purpose it before throwing it out.

“Ultimately, what we want to do is establish a new glass hierarchy for Arlington county,” he said. In the press release, the county said residents should consider prioritizing the purchase of items in containers made of “recyclable metal or even plastic.”

Mark Schwartz said he hoped to identify three additional location for glass drop-off centers by August, but acknowledged it may take more time adding recycling facilities to neighborhoods “may not be met warmly.”

Grabowsky said that starting next month, that the county will begin notifying people of the change in recycling glass with with digital and mailed letters.

“I didn’t anticipate that this would ever be an issue a few years ago,” Schwartz said. “But the economy and the international relationships we’ve had as the United States have changed in the last two years and some months, for some reason.”

Flickr pool photo by Aaron Webb

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Morning Notes

Flash Flood Watch Issued — Arlington and the region is under a Flash Flood Watch starting at noon today. Heavy rain and storms, some of which may be severe, are expected this afternoon and evening. [Twitter, Twitter]

Anytime Fitness Opening TodayAnytime Fitness, a new 24/7 gym, is set to open today in Rosslyn. “New member specials will be available through the end of April and free community workouts will be held every Saturday in May,” said a PR rep.

Protest Yesterday in Ballston — “A protest against power company AES is happening this morning in Ballston outside the company’s HQ. ACPD is on the scene watching over the protest, which is peaceful and includes speeches and signs against AES’ activities in Puerto Rico.” [Twitter]

Bike Recycling Event Next Month — “Bikes for the World will be collecting unneeded bicycles, bike parts and accessories on Saturday, May 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. as part of the Arlington E-CARE (Environmental Collection and Recycling Event) at 1425 North Quincy St.” [InsideNova]

Carbeque on I-395 — A car caught fire on southbound I-395 near Glebe Road just before Thursday’s evening rush hour. Several lanes were closed as a result of the vehicular inferno, but firefighters eventually extinguished the raging flames. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Good Friday in Arlington — “On Friday, April 19, several parishes of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington will offer Living Stations of the Cross (or Via Crucis en Vivo). The Living Stations consist of a visual portrayal of Jesus on the way to his crucifixion.” [Diocese of Arlington]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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(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.)

The only exception is glass delivered to the county’s two drop-off centers at N. Quincy Street and Washington Blvd and 2700 S. Taylor Street.

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

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Morning Notes

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]

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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

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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.

File photo

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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

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Morning Notes

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 MealsHUNGRY, 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

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