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
Reminder: Metro Station Closures — The Clarendon, Virginia Square and East Falls Church Metro stations are closed starting today. The closures will impact several ART bus routes, as well. [Arlington County]
Kaine Lauds Passage of Coronavirus Relief Bill — In a statement late Wednesday night, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed by the Senate “will backstop the American economy by protecting workers and their families.” [Press Release]
County: Hold Off on Spring Cleaning — “Although it is tempting to use the increased time in our homes to start ‘spring cleaning,’ please delay these activities or hold on to these items during this challenging time. Refuse collection crews are dealing with an increased volume of waste and disposal requests, while incorporating new protocols to limit their risk of exposure to COVID-19.” [Arlington County]
First Coronavirus Case at Pentagon — “A Marine assigned to the service’s headquarters office at the Pentagon has tested positive for COVID-19… becoming the first service member assigned to the Defense Department’s home base to contract coronavirus. The Marine tested positive March 24, Capt. Joseph Butterfield told Military Times, after a period of isolation spurred by symptoms in his wife.” [Military Times]
HQ2 Construction Still on Track — “Construction of the first of Amazon.com Inc.’s HQ2 towers remains on schedule, but the planning process for the green space around them may slow as the spread of the novel coronavirus forces public meeting cancellations. Clark Construction, lead contractor on Amazon’s first 2.1 million-square-foot office building, said that work at Metropolitan Park in Pentagon City is advancing with added coronavirus safety measures.” [Washington Business Journal]
Governor Orders Elective Surgeries Delayed — “Governor Ralph Northam and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA today directed all hospitals to stop performing elective surgeries or procedures to help conserve supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE). The public health emergency order does not apply to any procedure if the delay would cause harm to a patient.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]
Ballston’s Punch Bowl Social in Trouble — “Cracker Barrel announced Wednesday that eatertainment brand Punch Bowl Social has closed all of its 19 locations and laid off most of its restaurant and corporate staff and that it would not prevent foreclosure on the brand.” [FSR Magazine, Marketwatch]
Trash Collection Cancelled — Updated at 8:55 a.m. — Trash and recycling collection is cancelled today, according to Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services. Christmas tree and brush collection will be completed as normal, however. [Twitter]
Rep. Beyer Calls for Peace — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) tweeted the following after Iran’s airstrike on U.S. military bases in Iraq — a response to the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general: “De-escalate. Exercise diplomacy. Talk. Listen. Give peace a chance.” [Twitter]
Civ Fed Worries About Upzoning — “‘None of us are interested in destroying all our single-family neighborhoods,’ new County Board Chairman Libby Garvey said during the board’s Jan. 2 meeting with the Arlington County Civic Federation… At the forum, Garvey promised that the Civic Federation would play an integral role in any civic-engagement process that transpires in coming months. She reiterated the board’s position that zoning changes are not a done deal.” [InsideNova]
Board Defends Amazon’s Housing Contribution — “Arlington County Board members are defending their decision to trade additional office-building density for affordable-housing funding, but the decision provoked tension with some delegates to the Arlington County Civic Federation. Meeting with board members on Jan. 2, several federation members asked why the county government had decided to allocate all the $20 million contribution from Amazon to affordable-housing efforts.” [InsideNova]
Marijuana Possession Cases Dismissed — In court Tuesday, Arlington’s new top prosecutor successfully sought for judges to dismiss charges against those charged with simple marijuana possession. [Twitter]
Police Investigate Pike Robbery — A portion of westbound Columbia Pike was shut down near S. Glebe Road early Tuesday morning while police investigated a robbery. An ACPD spokeswoman told ARLnow that a victim was robbed and suffered minor injuries; no weapon was involved in the robbery. [Twitter]
New Coworking Space Coming to Crystal City — “Hana is coming to Greater Washington, and it’s going to be neighbors with HQ2. CBRE Group has picked a Crystal City office building to serve as the first East Coast location of its flexible space concept, named after the Hawaiian word for work.” [Washington Business Journal]
Local Pawn Shop Helps Return Lost Ring — “Mary Nosrati, a certified gemologist who works at a pawnshop in Arlington, Va., likes to say that every diamond has a story. This is the story of Marsha Wilkins’s diamond, of how it was lost and how it was found.” [Washington Post]
ACPD School Donation Drive Returns — “Help Arlington County students start the school year prepared to succeed by donating new school supplies and other classroom materials during the Fill the Cruiser Back-to-School Supply Drive… on Thursday, August 15 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.” [Arlington County]
Discussing Marymount’s Ballston Campus — “Colleges and universities have cracked the code to propel cities forward toward the future of education: focus on the campus experience, expand pathways to new careers, and partner with surrounding communities and cities to drive growth. In Arlington, Va., Marymount University has done just that.” [Medium]
Post-Flood Trash Collection Update — “The County took special measures to assist residential curbside customers in trash collection efforts following the July 8 damaging storm. This service was in addition to the weekly trash collection by our contractors. Over 110 tons of trash was collected through this service, which is the equivalent of the total weight of 16 school buses. Most of this had to be hand collected and lifted by our crews.” [Arlington County]
(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) Over a thousand residents have reported damage to their homes and several tons of debris was collected after last week’s torrential rainstorm that caused widespread flooding in Arlington.
The deadline for residents to report initial damages to their homes was Friday, July 12. Today (Monday) officials told ARLnow that a total of 1,029 people filed post-storm damage claims.
The damage reports describe a range of problem from minor (clogged drains) to major (completely flooded basements), said Hannah Winant, a spokeswoman with Arlington’s Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management (PSCEM) department.
Winant said the reports will help Arlington County’s recovery and flood mitigation efforts.
“First, reports help us determine what neighborhoods have been impacted by weather. For example, we may learn if someone needs a safety inspection after electricity loss,” she said. “Second, damage reports help us better convey our needs to the state when requesting potential resources to assist with recovery efforts. The more clearly we can articulate how many people have been impacted… the better we can advocate for our community and potentially collaborate with state and federal partners to help.”
As for the destruction of county property like pedestrian bridges and public parks, Winant says Arlington is current estimating about $4.1 million in damages — up from initial estimates last week of $3.5 million.
PSCEM’s director clarified during Saturday’s Arlington County Board meeting that these reports are used for the county’s state and federal aid applications, and that affected residents will have another change to summit damage claims later.
Crews hauled away 60 tons of debris — from rolled up carpets to soggy books to water-damaged furniture — during special collections from Wednesday to Saturday, according to Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien. That doesn’t include the ruined parts of people’s homes that dotted curbs around Arlington, waiting to be collected on regular trash pick-up days.
O’Brien said that county crews are scheduled to continue helping residents affected by the floods clear debris this week. The department previously apologized for a contractor who cited some flood-stricken residents “for improper trash preparation.”
Solid Waste Bureau special collection trucks have picked up 60 tons of debris from last week's storm on top of refuse removed during regular weekly contractor rounds. The County continues to monitor and provide special service for hard hit neighborhoods. https://t.co/8eqwfHbz0l pic.twitter.com/VjY6lWoXo5
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) July 15, 2019
Many homes, shops, restaurants, and pieces of public infrastructure were damaged by last Monday’s unusually strong storm — leading County Manager Mark Schwartz to declare a state of emergency in a bid for state or federal aid two days later.
“Our community experienced a rain event on Monday the likes of which no one who lives in Arlington, or who has lived in Arlington, has ever seen,” said County Board Chair Christian Dorsey at the Board’s weekend meeting, during which members unanimously voted to finalize the declaration. “The violent storm that turned the daytime sky as dark as night in a matter in minutes.”
PSCEM Director Aaron Miller told the Board that the county met the $3 million minimum damage threshold needed to qualify for state aid, and that the Small Business Administration (SBA) is sending inspectors to Arlington this week to verify the damage reports. The SBA could offer grants or low-interest loans for residents to rebuild.
Miller said additional aid hinges on a tangle of bureaucratic red tape among FEMA and larger emergency declarations that can only happen at the federal level when certain damage thresholds are met.
Dorsey added that he hoped that Virginia or the federal government will be able to give “some sort of help” but that the majority of costs are likely to fall on homeowners and business owners.
Several members of the public urged the Board to re-examine its storm water management system in hard-hit areas. Board Member Erik Gutshall proposed that the county start thinking about flood-ready construction for more resilient buildings and infrastructure.
Dorsey praised county staff for their work over the past week but noted that, “we do have to up our game” in face of future potential impacts from climate change.
“It is quite frankly a blessed miracle that no one was killed or even seriously injured with the events of this past Monday and for that we are profoundly grateful,” he said.
A trash truck dumped a flaming load of garbage in the parking lot of Washington Golf and Country Club this afternoon, leading to lane closures on N. Glebe Road during the evening rush hour.
The incident was first reported shortly before 5 p.m. The contents of a Waste Management truck caught fire, prompting the driver to dump the load in the ritzy private club’s front parking lot.
Firefighters were eventually able to extinguish the slow-burning fire, from which a small plume of smoke was visible on a nearby traffic camera. Now the private trash collection company will have to figure out how to clean up the mountain of soggy, sometimes charred debris from the parking lot, along with the detritus that was washed down nearby N. Glebe Road.
Both northbound lanes of Glebe were temporarily blocked at Old Dominion Drive during the incident. One lane has since reopened.
(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.)
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
Last week Sarah, a Rosslyn resident, was trying to solve a problem: what do you do if a mattress is left along the side of a busy local road and no one has done anything about it for weeks?
“A mattress was dumped on the sidewalk on Clarendon Blvd between Rhodes and Quinn about two weeks ago,” she told ARLnow. “It appears that the negligent property dumper and Arlington County are at a standoff, as the mattress remains. So what’s the end resolution here? Does this mattress stay on public property for eternity?”
“It’s an interesting civic dilemma,” Sarah added. “If Arlington County acquiesces and disposes of the mattress, the negligent resident has their belief that they can skirt the rules reinforced.”
Disposing of a mattress is not a straightforward proposition for those who live in local condos, apartments or other private communities. Unlike single-family home owners in Arlington, who can generally just leave mattresses and other bulky items by the curb, residents of multi-family complexes play by the rules of the trash company their building, HOA, etc. contracts with.
In this instance, someone apparently either decided to just dump the mattress and make it someone else’s problem — or Googled “mattress disposal arlington va” and didn’t realize that Arlington County’s trash pickup service does not apply to them.
Either way, the answer for Sarah and anyone with the same issue going forward is: visit the county’s website.
“Thanks for bringing this to our attention,” said Arlington County Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien, in response to an inquiry from ARLnow. “We have placed an illegal dumping ticket for this item. Someone from our Solid Waste Bureau will pick it up soon to dispose of it.”
For future reference, according to O’Brien: “Please report any litter or illegal dumping through our online Report a Problem tool: https://topics.arlingtonva.us/reportproblem/.”
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
(Updated at 1:20 p.m.) A trash truck caught fire near the Syphax Education Center in Penrose early this afternoon.
Police and firefighters are on the scene, along 2nd Street S. at S. Wayne Street.
The Waste Management truck’s driver dumped its contents onto the roadway after the fire started, according to police on the scene. A hazmat team subsequently managed to contain the spill, and Waste Management will be arranging a clean-up effort, according to scanner traffic.
Police expect 2nd Street S. to be closed in both directions for the next few hours. Fire marshals are currently investigating how the fire started.
This is at least the second trash truck fire in Arlington so far this year.
— Frank B. (@fbellavia) July 10, 2018
— Frank B. (@fbellavia) July 10, 2018
#Alert: Crews putting out trash truck fire at 2nd St S and S Wayne St. Fire out. Hazmat containing run off. Intersection will be closed for about 2 hrs. 2nd St S closed btwn S Uhle St & S Wayne St. S Wayne St closed btwn S Courthouse Rd & S Wayne St #ArlTx pic.twitter.com/CkgD9o0TXP
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) July 10, 2018
(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) A trash truck smashed into a half dozen cars near Rosslyn this morning.
The crash was reported just after 11 a.m., at the intersection of N. Nash Street and the Arlington Blvd access road, in Ft. Myer Heights.
The truck was going up the steep hill on N. Nash Street when it lost its momentum and started rolling down, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Ben O’Bryant.
On the way down it struck five vehicles, destroyed part of a stone wall and came to a stop in an apartment building parking lot. It also pushed at least one vehicle over a retaining wall and onto the street and sidewalk below.
Police and firefighters are on scene and the intersection is closed to traffic during the cleanup. The driver of the truck is currently being evaluated for injuries, O’Bryant said.
#Alert: Units are on scene of a 7 vehicle accident involving a trash truck at the Arlington Blvd access road and N Nash St. The access road is shut down from N Queen to N Meade St. One patient being evaluated for injuries. Avoid the area. pic.twitter.com/gcDIo3wSDV
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) April 19, 2018
ACPD on scene of multi-vehicle crash at Arlington Boulevard at N. Nash Street. Follow police direction in area. pic.twitter.com/okE8gxNJ2h
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) April 19, 2018
Arlington Blvd access road at Nash closed for accident clean up. pic.twitter.com/UthxgNS35M
— Chief 288 (@Chief288) April 19, 2018
— margot (@idlelupino) April 19, 2018