If Arlington County collects your yard waste, you can now add food scraps to your green organics cart starting this week.
This collection service, which started on Monday, is now part of the county’s regular weekly trash, recycling and yard waste collection routes. Food scraps and yard waste will be delivered together to a professional composting facility in Prince William County.
“Food scrap collection represents years of planning and organization by County staff and members of the community, guided by the Solid Waste Bureau,” according to the Department of Environmental Services. “The new program makes Arlington one of the first localities in the nation to gather residential food waste as a part of standard curbside services.”
Eligible residents received a small, beige countertop food caddy — which, up until now, some have used as coolers — and a set of compostable bags last month. The county distributed the supplies so folks can store scraps inside and bring filled bags to their green carts.
DES recommends people keep the pail, lined with a compostable bag — available at Target, on Amazon and at grocery stores — on a kitchen counter. Just before one’s weekly trash pickup time, the food scraps should be bagged, put in the green cart and rolled out for collection.
Those who worry about odors or insects can keep the pail or scrap bag in the freezer or refrigerator. Other alternatives include storing scraps in Tupperware or bins with charcoal filters.
Residents can toss a wide range of materials that qualify as “food scraps” into their green carts: from apple and banana peels to meats, bones, coffee grounds and even greasy pizza boxes and used paper napkins. A user’s guide was distributed along with the countertop caddy, and is also posted on the county website.
“The initiative marks another milestone in Arlington’s commitment to sustainability, diverting organic waste from incineration with regular trash,” the county said. “The compost generated will find its way into Arlington parks and community gardens and eventually individual yards, just as residents can pick up and order mulch for delivery from the County.”
Arlington is providing the service as part of its goal to divert 90% of waste from landfills and incinerators by 2038.
The county encourages residents who don’t receive weekly curbside collection to drop off their scraps at the Arlington County Trades Center in Shirlington (2700 S. Taylor Street), the Columbia Pike Farmers Market on Sundays, or MOM’s Organic Market (1901 N. Veitch Street). Residents who don’t get the county’s curbside collection service — which serves mostly single-family homes — can also email [email protected] for tips.
The new food scraps collection has even attracted entrepreneurs who are anticipating a stinky problem that they can solve.
Clarendon-based Bright Bins, a recently-launched waste bin cleaning business, is promoting its service as a way to “keep your bins clean and sanitized — and keep the rodents and pests away.”
“As opposed to using mild soap and a hose, our high-pressure 180-degree steam process sterilizes and deodorizes your organic bin, safeguarding it from attracting unpleasant visitors and ensuring you don’t dread the next time you open it,” said co-owner Ryan Miller.
(Updated 4:25 p.m.) Local firefighters handle all sorts of hazards. Today, one such hazard was a flaming pile of garbage.
The rubish’s rapid oxidation happened around noon today in front of Gunston Middle School, near Arlington Ridge. The blazing bags of refuse were reportedly dumped by a trash truck after the driver noticed smoke and flames coming from the back.
“He dumped his load that was on fire,” a witness tells ARLnow. “He did the right thing. Saved his truck.”
The quick thinking spared the truck and a bigger conflagration, but it left big mess in the Gunston parking lot. Arlington and Alexandria firefighters worked to douse the combusting crud, leaving a soggy heap of waste to be cleaned up.
The trash fire, no doubt seen by a metaphor by some, was caught on camera by Washington Post media reporter Jeremy Barr.
A literal garbage fire in Arlington pic.twitter.com/OesDfaOsRm
— Jeremy Barr (@jeremymbarr) August 6, 2021
Arlington County police blocked S. Lang Street, in front of the school, during the firefighting effort. A fire department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for additional information.
Later this afternoon, the county’s Department of Environmental Services shed some light on what likely caused the fire — rechargeable batteries tossed into a recycling bin — and provided some advice on how to properly recycle such batteries.
The likely ignition source: lithium or similar batteries tossed in with recycling material, which the truck was carrying. Best ways to dispose of batteries: https://t.co/LSugkgsYWP. https://t.co/SMabZxRL4U
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) August 6, 2021
(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Arlington County will start collecting residents’ food scraps on Labor Day.
Residents receiving county curbside collection services — mostly those in single-family homes and townhouses — will be able to toss unused food into their green yard waste bins and bring them to the curb on collection day, starting Monday, Sept. 6. Those scraps will be composted in Prince William County and returned to Arlington as soil.
“This is going to be for everybody who is a part of the household solid waste collection program,” said Erik Grabowsky, the chief of the Solid Waste Bureau of the Department of Environmental Services, during a community forum last week.
Arlington will be the first jurisdiction in Virginia to provide the service to all residential customers, he said.
The initiative is part of the county’s goal to divert 90% of resources from landfills and incinerators by 2038. It is also the last significant program to be implemented from the county’s 2004 solid waste management plan, Grabowsky said.
“There are many good reasons for adding a food scraps collection program,” he said, such as diverting useable waste from landfills and incinerators. Creating and using compost “will build healthier soils and also allow us to pay attention to the amount of food waste we are generating — which may change purchasing habits and may save us money.”
County household waste collection customers should have received a postcard previewing the service change and will soon receive an informational cart hanger, he said. The second of two virtual community forums will be held tomorrow and the county will be delivering “starter kits” with a two-gallon food caddy, 40 compostable bags and educational materials, throughout the month of August.
Acceptable food waste and food scraps include:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Meats, including bones, and old meat grease (sopped up with a paper towel)
- Dairy products and eggshells
- Coffee grounds, paper coffee liners and tea leaves (but not tea bags)
Residents should still put disposable containers and other products marketed as “compostable” in the trash.
“A lot of the materials have plastic liners,” said Adam Riedel, a county environmental management specialist. “We want to ensure the highest quality product, which means keeping out those contaminants.”
That could change if the federal government issues stricter regulations for creating and marketing disposable products as “compostable,” he said.
DES recommends keeping the pail, lined with a compostable bag, on a kitchen counter. Just before one’s weekly trash pickup time the food scraps should be bagged, put in the green cart and rolled out for collection.
Riedel said he keeps his pail on the counter and he notices no odor, but for those who are worried, he suggested keeping the pail or scrap bag in the freezer or refrigerator.
Grabowsky said he does not envision proper disposal requiring much enforcement.
“People generally comply with rules and regulations,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to have a contamination problem. If we do, we’re going to have to start having more aggressive action.”
The scraps will be converted into nutrient-dense soil at Freestate Farms in nearby Prince William County, per a new agreement approved by the County Board in February. The facility is run via a public-private partnership between Prince William County and the private corporation.
(Updated at 11:25 a.m.) If hazardous materials and old electronics have been piling up around your Arlington home, help is on the way.
Arlington County is relaunching its biannual Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE) after an extended pandemic hiatus. The event is scheduled to return on Saturday, May 22, from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at 1425 N. Quincy Street, across from Washington-Liberty High School
The twice-yearly event usually allows residents to dispose of their hazardous household materials, electronics, and large metal objects — though metal is out this go-round.
“They won’t be taking bikes and big/small metal things, from ducts to frying pans,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Peter Golkin. “Maybe by the fall.”
(An appointment-only drop-off at the Earth Products Yard near Shirlington remains an option for smaller metal scrap.)
E-CARE is only available for personal use — businesses and commercial waste should be disposed of elsewhere. Residents are also encouraged to combine their scrap to reduce total trips.
Accepted materials listed on the County website include:
- Automotive fluids
- Car care products
- Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)
- Corrosives (acids/caustics)
- Fire extinguishers
- Flammable solvents
- Fluorescent tubes
- Fuels/petroleum products
- Household cleaners
- Lawn and garden chemicals
- Paint products (25-can limit)
- Photographic chemicals
- Poisons (pesticides)
- Printer ink/toner cartridges
- Propane gas cylinders (small hand-held or larger)
- Swimming pool chemicals
There are some limits, however, so be sure to leave your spare plutonium and uranium at home.
- Explosives and ammunition
- Medical wastes
- Prescription medications
- Radioactive materials
- Smoke detectors
Electronics can be collected curbside on weekdays by special request submitted online, and can also be dropped off at the Electronic Collection and Recycling Center at Water Pollution Control Plant Gate 3 (531 31st Street S.).
Photo via Arlington County
Arlington County will be sending its yard waste and food scraps to Prince William County.
At Saturday’s County Board meeting, the board approved a new agreement to send organic compost to a new state-of-the-art composting facility in Prince William County.
Until November last year, the county was sending compost to a Loudoun County facility but that facility has since ceased operations.
Back in 2016, Arlington County began year-round residential curbside collection of organic material like grass clippings, leaves, and yard trimmings.
Arlington County provides year-round residential curbside collection of organic material, such as grass clippings, leaves, and yard trimmings. Through the winter — November to March — the material is composted at the Earth Products Recycling Yard (EPRY) at the Arlington County Trades Center in Shirlington.
However, that changes in the spring due to EPRY’s inability to compost grass clippings as well as space limitations related to residents mowing their lawn more often in the spring and summer.
As a result, from April to October the county sends its organic material to a third-party outside of the county for processing.
And starting this year, that material will be going to Freestate Farms in nearby Prince William County. The facility is run via a public-private partnership between Prince William County and the private corporation.
Beyond yard waste, the Prince William County facility also has the ability to compost “mixed organics,” i.e. food waste. County Manager Mark Schwarz’s proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget includes about $300,000 to add food scraps to the list of items that can be placed in the green organics bin.
If approved, the food scrap collection would begin in September, according to Schwartz’s budget.
In the meantime, the county’s current organics collection is set to start being trucked to Prince William County on April 1. The agreement does come with a price, however.
The Prince William facility is charging more than the Loudoun County facility, from $32 a ton for yard waste to the new rate of $36 a ton. For mixed organics, the rate is even higher, at $38 a ton. The staff report says these rate increases should be “almost or entirely offset” by other savings in the waste collection budget and will not result in Arlington households having to absorb the rate increase.
In fact, according to the proposed budget, there actually would be a slight rate decrease in the solid waste rate for households. Currently, households are paying an annual rate of $319.03. If the budget passes as is, even with the addition of mixed organics collection, residents will pay $318.61.
Board Advertises Property Tax Rates — “The Arlington County Board today voted unanimously to advertise no increase in the Calendar Year 2021 base real estate property tax rate, citing the toll the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is taking on residents. The Board also voted to advertise a proposed Stormwater tax rate of 1.7 cents per $100 of assessed real property value to fund the full cost of operations and planned capital improvements to the County’s stormwater infrastructure and flood mitigation… The estimated annual impact for the average household with an assessed home value of $724,400 is $123.” [Arlington County]
Snow Falling in Arlington — Updated at 9:10 a.m. — Snow is falling in Arlington, which is just outside of a newly-expanded expanded Winter Weather Advisory. Be careful out there! [Twitter]
Business Owners Talk About Burglaries — “Metry describes the Bluemont neighborhood where his business was burglarized as safe. He doesn’t understand why his business was targeted. ‘The whole register, the iPad, the square scan, all of this was missing,’ Metry said. Surveillance footage captured at neighboring restaurant La Union shows the burglars wearing dark clothing, hoodies, masks and gloves. Jose Zelaya has owned the Mexican restaurant La Union for 21 years. Aside from a random car break-in, he said he’s never experienced any crime like this.” [WUSA 9]
St. Patrick’s Pie at Clarendon Pizzeria — “Colony Grill, Clarendon’s new family-friendly tavern, known for its gracious hospitality and famous ‘hot oil’ bar-style pizzas, will serve a special corned beef & cabbage “Bar Pie”… [f]rom Friday, March 12 through Wednesday, March 17.” [Press Release]
Reminder: Trash Collection Delayed a Day — Due to ice and snow last week, Friday’s residential waste collection will be completed today, shifting this week’s collection schedule by one day. [ARLnow]
Ice and snow has prompted another day without residential waste collection in Arlington, and that will have a ripple effect for residents next week.
“Due to icy road conditions and crew safety concerns, there will be no trash/recycling/yard waste curbside collection today,” Arlington County said this morning.
As a result of the delays, the trash collection schedule for next week will shift back by a day.
“Thursday’s route will now be completed on Saturday, 2/20,” the county said. “Friday’s route will be completed on Monday, 2/22, which will shift next week’s collection schedule by one day next week… Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.”
The county’s collection service serves mostly single-family homes; apartments and condos are served by private haulers.
Table via Arlington County
The Arlington County Board is going to consider adding food scraps collection to its solid waste services in the 2021-22 budget.
This change would allow residents to toss their food scraps with their yard waste in the existing green bins. All the organic material would be taken to a composting facility and the new service would cost less than $12 annually for those paying the household solid waste rate, according to county staff.
“We should have more information in the spring,” Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien told ARLnow in an email.
The county is mulling the move after being encouraged by positive community feedback. A majority of residents, surveyed in November and December, said they support mingling food scraps and yard waste. The survey garnered 3,973 respondents, of whom 79% supported the addition of food scraps to their organics carts, O’Brien said.
DES pushed out the feedback form to the household trash and recycling email list, which has about 27,575 people signed up for it, added DES spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.
“We believe there is a great support for the program — as evidenced by the feedback form and what we’ve heard through the years since introducing the green organics cart with year-round yard waste,” she said.
This potential service change would only be available to those who receive residential waste collection from the county — mostly people in single-family homes, as opposed to apartment and condo residents served by private waste haulers.
Currently, all county residents can drop off their scraps at Earth Products Recycling Yard in Shirlington (4300 29th Street S.) or the Columbia Pike Farmers Market on Sundays. The county also provides instructions for backyard composting.
Arlington’s quarterly trash audits have revealed that food scraps make up more than 20% of what residents throw out. According to the county’s website, collecting food scraps would support the county’s goal of diverting up to 90% of waste from incineration by 2038.
During the week, residents would collect their fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy in a countertop pail. Once the pail fills up, residents would place the scraps — bagged in paper or compostable bags — in their green organics cart and take it to the curb on trash pickup day.
To limit odors, staff recommend lining the pail with a bag, emptying it regularly and rinsing it occasionally. Freezing the scraps also reduces odors. Like the yard trimmings, food scraps will be brought to a permitted composting facility.
The County has collected grass clippings, cut flowers, brush, hedge trimmings and leaves year-round since 2016.
Photo (top) by The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) Freezing temperatures and frozen precipitation overnight has made for slippery conditions around Arlington Monday morning.
With many locals working from home already, traffic around Arlington is light. Thanks to the efforts of snow crews, main roads are mostly wet and side streets have been treated. Few crashes have been reported since sunrise, but that might also be attributable to people staying at home.
Still, caution is being urged.
“Overnight crews have been treating known slick areas but caution is advised for those who must drive this morning. Go slow,” wrote Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services this morning.
8:20a: Use extreme caution walking/driving as untreated surfaces are ICED OVER. Temps still in the mid-20s to near 30 and scattered light wintry mix continues in parts of region.
Updated forecast: https://t.co/uWdAOfmGQt pic.twitter.com/N04yVPdTHA
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) February 1, 2021
County crews are currently in Phase 4 of the snow removal effort, “following up on problem areas, schools and other county facilities.” Many sidewalks, including those maintained by the county, are icy and treacherous.
Both Arlington Transit and Metro buses are operating on modified schedules.
Due to the wintry conditions, residential trash and recycling collection has been cancelled today. Collection will resume tomorrow and take place a day after one’s normal waste collection day.
CANCELED: Residential curbside trash and recycling collection is canceled today due to inclement weather. Collections have been pushed one day this week, to include metal, e-waste, and cart requests. Questions? Call 703-228-5000. #ArlWX pic.twitter.com/yUey8cecBn
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) February 1, 2021
Another cancellation today: vaccine appointments. While the county worked throughout the weekend to reschedule the appointments of those formerly set to receive vaccines from Virginia Hospital Center, another round of cancellations is taking place today due to the weather.
“Due to the impending winter weather, the Arlington vaccine clinics scheduled for Monday, February 1 have been cancelled in the interest of client and staff safety,” says the county’s website. “ALL individuals who have scheduled times for Monday WILL be rescheduled as early as possible.”
That prompted the following Twitter exchange with County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti this morning.
Did 800 Saturday in advanced planning. Working to do more. Safety of volunteers and those above 75 who are significant part of the focus was part of our thinking. More to do for sure, but this is why. Resuming tomorrow morning.
— Matt de Ferranti (@Matt4Arlington) February 1, 2021
Arlington Public Schools, meanwhile, has been mostly operating remotely, but even virtual students are not attending classes today as a result of a pre-scheduled grade preparation day. APS buildings, nonetheless, are closed for sports and other activities due to the weather.
While the bulk of the precipitation fell on Sunday, Arlington may see a bit more later today. A Winter Weather Advisory has been extended until 9 a.m. Tuesday, with forecasters warning of continued slippery conditions outside.
More from the National Weather Service:
…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM EST TUESDAY…
* WHAT…MIXED PRECIPITATION. ADDITIONAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF UP TO TWO INCHES AND ICE ACCUMULATIONS OF UP TO ONE TENTH OF AN INCH.
* WHERE…THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, PORTIONS OF CENTRAL, NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN MARYLAND AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA.
* WHEN…UNTIL 9 AM EST TUESDAY.
* IMPACTS…PLAN ON SLIPPERY ROAD CONDITIONS. THE HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS COULD IMPACT THE MORNING OR EVENING COMMUTE.
SLOW DOWN AND USE CAUTION WHILE TRAVELING.
WHEN VENTURING OUTSIDE, WATCH YOUR FIRST FEW STEPS TAKEN ON STEPS, SIDEWALKS, AND DRIVEWAYS, WHICH COULD BE ICY AND SLIPPERY, INCREASING YOUR RISK OF A FALL AND INJURY.
Yesterday’s snowfall was Arlington’s biggest in two years, despite clocking in at a disappointing two inches of accumulation. It did, however, lead to plenty of outdoor fun for cooped-up kids, and some beautiful scenes across the county, like the one below.
The Snowy Day at Arlington’s Reevesland/Bluemont Park @capitalweather @ARLnowDOTcom #DCsnowholetakesavacation pic.twitter.com/MceXKbZm3b
— Tom Mockler (@TomMockler) January 31, 2021
(Updated at 10:50 p.m.) Arlington County is trying to make its recycling service more efficient, and that means keeping items that don’t get recycled out of the stream.
In a pamphlet that’s being left for those served by the county’s waste collection contractor — mostly those in single-family homes — residents are urged to avoid putting “contaminants” in the blue recycling cart, even if they have a recycling logo.
What can be recycled can be simplified down to: (1) uncontaminated paper products, and (2) plastic and metal containers enclosed by bottle caps, lids or tabs.
A number of common materials are not usable by the company that processes Arlington’s recycling, and clutter the recycling stream before ultimately going to a landfill. According to pamphlet and other county guidance, those include:
- Paper towels and greasy pizza boxes
- Plastic bags including garbage bags (recyclables should be placed directly in the cart)
- Plastic and padded envelopes, including those used by Amazon
- To-go paper coffee cups, including Starbuck cups
- Wrappers and single-use plastics like coffee lids, Solo cups and small yogurt containers
- Foam containers and packing materials
- Pots and pans
According to the pamphlet, the vast majority of what is recycled in Arlington — about 75% of material collected — is paper and cardboard. Metal items make up 5% and recyclable plastics are about 7%. The rest, as determined by a waste stream sort in the last quarter of 2020, is glass and other non-recyclable material.
Non-recyclable material in the recycling stream reduces the revenue the county receives from its recycling processor per ton of collected material, resulting in higher waste collection fees for residents, the pamphlet says. This spring the processor will examine a sample of the materials coming from Arlington to determine the rate the county will receive going forward.
If you have a Christmas tree in your house — a real one, like 44% of respondents to a recent ARLnow poll — you’ll need to keep it watered for at least the next week.
Arlington County is not beginning its annual Christmas tree collection until Monday, Jan. 4. The two-week curbside collection will run through Friday, Jan. 15.
Residential waste collection customers — primarily those in single-family homes — will have trees collected on their regular trash collection day. Residents of apartments, condos and townhomes can drop trees off at the county’s Earth Products Yard in Shirlington.
Collected trees will be turned into mulch and reused throughout the county.
More from the county website:
Trees collected by the County the first two full weeks of January are turned into mulch available from County facilities.
From Jan. 4 through Jan. 15, place trees at curb no later than 6 a.m. on your regular trash collection day after removing ALL decorations, nails, stands. Do not place trees in plastic bags.
After Jan. 15, Christmas trees are handled at curbside as part of regular year-round yard waste collection. Make sure the tree is bare and ready for composting. Trees over 8-feet long will need to be dismantled.
Residents without regular curbside pickup, including those living in townhomes, apartments and condominiums, can bring Christmas trees to the Solid Waste Bureau’s Earth Products Yard in Shirlington. For safe dropoff, call 703-228-5000 Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. to schedule a weekday appointment. You will need proof of residence in Arlington to drop off.
Photo via Arlington County