So you heard last fall that Arlington’s recycling contractor was no longer recycling plastic bags. No big deal, you can just take all of those grocery and shopping bags to your nearest supermarket for recycling.
But it’s still okay to put a garbage bag full of recyclables into the blue bin, right?
Even garbage bags are verboten under the new policy.
“In the past, our recycling processor allowed County recycling customers to put plastic bags in their recycling carts,” Erik Grabowsky, Arlington’s Solid Waste Bureau Chief, tells ARLnow.com. “However, the processor cannot accept these plastic bags anymore because they wrap around processing equipment and disrupt operations. We ask that residents stop putting plastic bags in their recycling carts.”
Also, make sure that plastic films — including bubble wrap, saran wrap and those little air pockets that come in Amazon.com boxes — stay out of the recycling.
There’s a rumor going around that the presence of any plastic bag in a recycling bin automatically forces the recycling crew to dump it as trash. A “stinky policy,” is how one tipster described it. But that’s not exactly true, Grabowsky says.
“The presence of a few plastic bags in a recycling bin does not make the entire bin trash,” he said. “The processor would not discard the entire contents of the bin or a truckload as trash. However, we ask that residents be proactive and refrain from putting plastic bags in recycling bins.”
The policy applies to residents who are served by the county’s trash and recycling service. Those living in apartment buildings or condos have their recycling picked up by a private contractor, which may have different rules.
Flickr pool photo by Aaron Webb
As in previous years, Arlington County will be conducting its curbside Christmas tree collection during the first two full weeks of January. In 2016, the collection will run from Monday, Jan. 4 to Friday, Jan. 15.
“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,” the county said on its website. “The trees are later ground into wood mulch for garden use.”
Those who live in condos or other places without residential curbside trash collection can opt to schlep their trees Arlington’s Solid Waste Bureau near Shirlington for recycling. Residents are asked to call 703-228-6570 to make an appointment to drop off a tree there. Proof of Arlington residence is required.
Year-round yard waste collection is coming to Arlington
On Saturday, the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a measure that will provide curbside collection of yard waste year round for Arlington households.
The new service is expected to divert up to 9,000 tons of compostable materials from trash collection and raise the county’s recycling rate, which is already the highest in the region.
While Arlington’s solid waste rate remains the lowest in the region, the yard waste collection will ultimately cost homeowners an extra $47 per year.
Critics have said that the extra cost will hurt already-burdened Arlington homeowners. Critics also say that the extra trucks required to haul the yard waste may produce more greenhouse gasses than are saved by not sending the yard waste with other trash to a waste-to-energy plant, as is current practice.
The county’s press release about year-round yard waste collection, after the jump.
That’s the message from Arlington County, which is no longer accepting plastic bags as part of their curbside recycling program. Instead, those wishing to get rid of grocery bags need to take them back to grocery stores, which can recycle them.
The change comes as a result of new recommendations from the county’s Solid Waste Bureau, said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Meghan McMahon.
Plastic bags can be difficult to recycle because of their flimsy nature, McMahon said.
“Plastic bags tend to get stuck and cause damage to the recycling facility machines,” she said. “Recycling companies can spend hours shutting down machinery and pulling out the bags.”
The county has a list of grocery stores accepting plastic bags for recycling available on its website, McMahon said. According to the website, plastic bags can be placed in marked containers outside of certain grocery stores.
“Combine bags with other bags or place liners or plastic film inside other plastic bags,” the county said on its website. “Many Arlington retail stores such as Whole Foods, Costco, Safeway, Harris Teeter and Giant collect and recycle plastic bags. Look for the specially marked containers when you are out in the County. Or, reuse your bags during your next visit to store.”
Arlington will still recycle paper bags, like those from Whole Foods.
The recycling change came as a surprise to some residents.
Marianne Petrino-Schaad, a Douglas Park resident, said the county did not send out a letter informing residents about the changes.
‘The only way we seemed to be notified of this was a little magnet stuck in the trash pickup,” Petrino-Schaad said. The magnet, pictured above, notes items that should not be recycled in addition to those that should. Previously, the county advised residents to recycle bags by placing multiple plastic bags in one bag.
While taking the plastic bags to a grocery store is not too much of a hassle, she said she was frustrated that residents pay for recycling services and now they aren’t taking items like plastic bags, wire coat hangers and shredded newspaper.
“To my mind it’s an example of what I call, and other people, call shadow work,” she said.
Arlington’s biannual Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE) has been rescheduled for the end of October due to rainy weather.
The recycling event will now happen on Halloween (Oct. 31) from 8:30 a.m to 3 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road).
“The Arlington Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE) is an event where Arlington residents can safely dispose of household hazardous materials and recycle bikes, small metal items, shoes and clothing, among other things,” the county said on its website.
The county is waiving the $20 recycling fee for televisions and $15 recycling fee for computer monitors due to the inconvenience of having to reschedule.
E-CARE was originally scheduled for this Saturday, Oct. 3, but was cancelled as the result of anticipated rain from a nor’easter hitting the area this weekend.
(Updated at 10:25 a.m.) Last year it looked like Arlington County would soon be starting year-round yard waste collection. That is, until Arlington’s waste hauling contractors lost out on the yard waste contract and sued the county.
The year-round yard waste collection proposal has since been in limbo. With the lawsuits withdrawn, it is now on track again to becoming a reality — as soon as Spring 2016 — but only if it garners enough public support.
Arlington is conducting an online survey through Friday (Sept. 25) to gauge resident interest in the service.
“Results from the survey will be presented to the County Board this fall, who will then make the decision about whether to add year-round yard waste to the other waste collection services,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.
Adding the year-round collection would mean an optional third cart for residents to bring to the curb every week and a not-optional extra $33 per year added to their current $271 per year residential waste collection bill. The county says that even at $304 per year, Arlington’s rate would remain the lowest in the area.
Currently, Arlington conducts a seasonal yard waste collection: 10 weeks of leaf collection in the fall and 6 weeks of yard debris collection in the spring. The collected items are then composted. At all other times during the year, organic material is treated as trash and incinerated.
In addition to environmental benefits, “the logistics for handling year-round yard waste would be less demanding than turning the system on and off at points during the year,” according to a county press release.
Arlington has since dumped KMG Hauling and Bates Trucking, the contractors that filed suit, and is touting the benefits of its new contract with American Disposal Services. Among them:
- “Reduced pollution from compressed natural gas collection vehicles.”
- “$5.5 million savings on core services through the length of the 10-year contract.”
- “More responsive customer service through advanced collection vehicle and cart monitoring.”
Recycling is being made easier in county offices and facilities.
The county is starting a new program that no longer requires residents and county staff to separate different recyclable items.
Instead, the county is introducing new recycling containers for all recyclable materials, including paper, glass and plastic. The new blue bins will be placed in all county facilities and offices over the next couple of weeks.
Here is what Acting County Manager Mark Schwartz said about the new recycling changes, in a memo to employees:
Good News. We are implementing a new recycling program in all County offices and facilities. Now all your recyclable items — plastic, metal, empty food and beverage containers, paper, cardboard and glass — can be placed in one recycling container, eliminating the need to separate materials for collection.
This is good news for you and for sustaining the environment. As you may know, one of the core values listed in our vision statement is sustainability. At the end of last year, the County Board was presented with the Environmentally Preferable Practices and Purchasing Work Plan to encourage sustainable practices County-wide. This plan was put together by a team of staff from various departments and is a great example of the kind of ideas that help us do a better job.
You may have noticed blue desk-side recycling bins at various County-owned or occupied buildings. If you haven’t received a blue bin yet, you will in the coming weeks. There will also be new co-located trash and mixed recycling containers used as sorting stations in shared areas, such as hallways and break rooms.
Be on the lookout for these new containers and instructions on how to properly use them in your building. I challenge you to actively participate in the County’s recycling effort and increase the facilities’ recycling rate by the end of the year. With everyone’s participation, I am confident that County staff can continue to lead by example in the area of sustainability. For help with your conservation efforts, please contact the Solid Waste Bureau.
Thank you for your support,
P.S. Some facts on the recycling:
- The County has a recycling rate goal of 47 percent; currently County facilities only recycle around 23 percent;
- Recyclables cost less to process than trash; therefore, increasing recycling and reducing waste helps lower the County’s operating costs;
- Nearly 70 percent of the materials disposed as trash in an office can actually be recycled; and
- Recycling helps preserve natural resources and reduces greenhouse gases.
(Updated at 10:10 a.m.) Over the next week, Arlington residents have two chances to take one more step in spring cleaning: recycling household goods and electronics.
This Saturday, Arlington is hosting its biannual E-CARE recycling event at Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road), allowing residents to dropoff hazardous household goods to be disposed of responsibly.
The event will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. According to Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services, these are the items residents can bring and have recycled:
- 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
Explosives and ammunition, medical wastes, asbestos, freon and radioactive materials are among the items Arlington won’t accept. Residents can also bring small metal items like pots and pans, computer monitors and old TVs, keyboards, scanners and phones to be recycled.
Next Wednesday, April 22 — on the 45th anniversary of Earth Day — the Crystal City Business Improvement District will hold a recycling event of their own, more focused on electronics and office supplies.
The annual Power Purge and Shred is from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. next Wednesday at 1900 Crystal Drive. Unwanted documents and electronics will be recycled and, if you so choose, the former will be shredded and destroyed. There’s also a “hard drive crusher” on site, allowing you to “watch your data storage device be rendered useless,” the BID says on its website.
The Purge and Shred will accept batteries, old electronics — including monitors and microwaves — and will accept old, incandescent light bulbs. In exchange for the old lightbulbs, the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy will give recyclers a new LED bulb.
Crystal City’s Power Purge has recycled nearly 140 tons of electronics since the event’s inception. This year, the event will also include a photo contest, with a free class at the nearby TechShop as the prize.
Both sites will be accepting old bikes and donating them to Bikes for the World, which takes old, used bikes and repairs them, giving the new and improved bicycles to impoverished people overseas.
Image via Arlington County. Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
County to Hold Affordable Housing Forum — The Arlington County Human Rights Commission is holding a public forum on affordable housing on Thursday. The forum will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street). Between 2000 and 2013, the average rent in Arlington increased by 91 percent while the average home sale price rose 140 percent. [Arlington County]
Beware of Contract Vote Requirements — In the interest of government accountability, County Board member John Vihstadt has proposed requiring a Board vote on all county contracts over $1 million. Beware of such a requirement, says a letter to the editor writer. Reformers in the District want to take away the power to vote on large contracts from the D.C. Council, citing recent scandals and the potential for abuse. [Washington Post]
Hynes to Host Business Breakfasts — Hoping to give a boost to Arlington’s economic competitiveness, County Board Chair Mary Hynes is planning on holding quarterly breakfasts with local business leaders. The meetings come at a time when Arlington’s office vacancy rate is north of 20 percent and the Columbia Pike and Crystal City corridors are facing the loss of the planned streetcar project. [InsideNova]
Christmas Tree Recycling Begins Today — Christmas tree recycling begins today in Arlington County. Trees collected curbside and at the Arlington Solid Waste Bureau will be turned into mulch. [ARLnow]
Flickr pool photo by Lawrence Cheng Photography
Now that the Christmas season is over, Arlington is once again offering residents a chance to turn their trees into mulch.
Starting Monday, Jan. 5, those with curbside trash collection can set their coniferous trees on the curb next to their trash can to be picked up. The trees will be picked up on the regular trash day until Jan. 16, after which they will still be picked up, just not recycled.
All trees must be cleared of lights, ornaments and all other decorations, as well as taken out of their stands, before being placed on the curb by 6:00 a.m. on trash day.
Those without curbside trash pickup can call (703) 228-6570 to schedule an appointment to bring their trees to the Solid Waste Bureau, along with proof or Arlington residence.
The trees will be recycled and turned into mulch, which is available for free for Arlington residents.
The Board on Tuesday passed a request to advertise a plan to have the county begin conducting year-round yard waste collection starting July 1. Each household’s annual Solid Waste Rate would increase by $13.28 per year, bringing the total to $307.04 annually, to pay for the change.
As part of the change, the county will give each household a new cart for the yard waste. The carts are expected to be rolled out in August or September.
“Residents will be able to place their grass, leaves or small brush — known as organics — in the new containers and then place it curbside for collection alongside their refuse and household recycling carts,” the county said in its press release. “The new carts will be green in color to help distinguish their function and will be accompanied by composting educational material from the County.”
The county expects the change to year-round yard waste to save about 9,000 tons of waste that will now be composted, increasing the county’s recycling rate by 13 percent. The Board first indicated it was considering this shift when it surveyed residents about composting last summer.
“Recycling yard waste year-round is an important program that promises to make a difference for our environment,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a press release. “Eliminating organics from the waste stream will move us toward setting and achieving a zero waste goal for future generations.”
Obama Visit Boosted Business at Bookstore — The November 2012 visit to One More Page Books (2200 N. Westmoreland Street) by President Obama and his family boosted revenue at the East Falls Church store by 20 percent. The visit still continues to benefit the store, according to owner Eileen McGervey. [Washington Business Journal]
Miss Gay Arlington Crowned — The new 2014 Miss Gay Arlington is Coco B. Colby. Colby was crowned after besting three competitors during the April 18 event at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City. Previous Miss Gay Arlington winners include Shaunda Leer, Stardust and Diamond D. Bottoms. [InsideNoVa]
County Promotes Building Safety — After a series of high-profile construction accidents this past fall, Arlington County has officially proclaimed May to be Building Safety Month. “Building safety is our focus every day, although most of that work happens behind the scenes,” said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette, in a statement. [Arlington County]
Crystal City Power Purge Today — Crystal City is holding its annual Power Purge and Shred from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. today. The event, at 1900 Crystal Drive, allows residents to recycle electronics, paper and to get rid of household paints and supplies. There’s also a specialty hard drive crusher for data security. [Crystal City]
Yorktown, W-L Soccer Game Ends in Tie — A “hard-fought, exhausting” boys soccer match between Yorktown and Washington-Lee ended in a scoreless tie Tuesday night. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
The event is held every spring and fall at Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road). The E-CARE on Saturday is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
“E-CARE is an event where Arlington residents can safely dispose of household hazardous materials and recycle bikes, small metal items, shoes, clothing and bed frames among other things,” according to an event listing.
Among the hazardous household items that can be disposed of at E-CARE are: 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, mercury, paint products (25-can limit), photographic chemicals, poisons (pesticides), propane gas cylinders (small hand-held or larger), and swimming pool chemicals.
Materials not accepted for disposal include: asbestos, explosives and ammunition, Freon, medical wastes, prescription medications, radioactive materials, and smoke detectors.
A full list of other items that will be accepted — including bicycles, electronics, clothing, eyeglasses and hearing aids — is available on the E-CARE website.
Starting Monday, Jan. 6, trees will be collected on residents’ regular trash day. Trees should be placed on the curb no later than 6:00 a.m. on trash day, and all lights, decorations, stands, nails and plastic bags should be removed.
Trees taken with the trash before Jan. 17 will be recycled by being ground into garden mulch. Trees will still be collected with the trash after Jan. 17, but they will be trashed, not recycled.
Residents who live in apartments or townhouses and don’t have curbside recycling services can drop off their trees at the county’s Solid Waste Bureau (4300 29th Street S.) by calling 702-228-6570 on weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to schedule an appointment.
Favola: Streamline Development Approval — State Senator and former County Board member Barbara Favola (D) is urging Arlington County to streamline its development approval process in order to make it easier for affordable housing projects to be built. At a fundraiser for the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing this week, Favola and others said red tape and community resistance is making it more expensive to build affordable housing in Arlington. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington E-CARE Event This Weekend — Arlington will hold is biannual Environmental Collection and Recycling Event from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. The event allows Arlington residents to safely dispose of household hazardous materials and to recycle items like bikes, small metal items, shoes, clothing, bed frames, etc. [Arlington County]
NSF Buyers Remorse in Alexandria? — Alexandria officials are thrilled to be taking the National Science Foundation and its more than 4,000 associated jobs from Arlington. But some are now voicing displeasure with a part of the incentive package for NSF that relieved the developer of the agency’s new headquarters from paying what would have been more than $1 million to the city’s affordable housing fund. [Patch]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann