The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has endorsed county efforts to expand food scrap drop-offs to more farmers markets and evaluate a possible curbside collection pilot program.
Such collection opportunities would mark a step toward the county’s ambitious goal of making schools and government operations zero waste by 2030 and carbon neutral by 2040.
The board asked the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services last summer to research and report options for bringing an internal compost pilot — an employee-led food scrap recycling program called the Fairfax Employees for Environmental Excellence — to the public.
Fairfax County Director of Engineering and Environment Compliance Eric Forbes told the board during its environmental committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday) that DPWES has “a number of pilot programs” and the county “has been discussing working toward organics diversion for quite a while.”
Food scraps, which can be composted and converted into nutrient-dense soil, make up 30% of what gets thrown away in the county. Diverting this potential resource represents “the next rung on the ladder for our community,” Forbes said.
The county unveiled composting drop-off sites at the I-95 Landfill Complex & I-66 Transfer Station in November. He said these sites have rescued about 4,500 pounds of food scraps so far. People can also bring food scraps to farmers’ markets or hire one of four vendors in the county that offer curbside organics collection services.
In the near future, the county is looking to expand collection opportunities at farmers’ markets run by the Fairfax County Park Authority, FRESHFARM, and Central Farm Markets. These three organizations have expressed interested in working with the county, according to Forbes.
The county is also mulling over a curbside collection program, which would let residents mingle food scraps and yard waste in their green bins. Through an inter-county agreement, the food scraps could be taken to a facility in Prince William County.
“I like the idea of regional players taking the responsibility,” Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck said. “I appreciate Prince William stepping up to build their own food scrap recycling.”
Still, Braddock District Supervisor James R. Walkinshaw told Forbes the county should “aggressively” promote backyard composting. He said doing so is especially important if the county finds that a curbside collection program would increase emissions.
“I want to make sure we do that analysis before moving forward with expansion of curbside,” he said.
Likewise, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay said he appreciates the pilot programs and partnerships, but there needs to be more communication with the “average Joe homeowner.”
Forbes said his staff is looking to purchase electric vehicles for trash collection. As for educational opportunities, he said the county publishes lots of educational material and presents ways to eliminate food waste at homeowners’ association meetings.
Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik encouraged the county to look for year-round and seasonal farmers’ markets near apartment buildings.
“I want to make sure we are looking at equity through this issue,” she said. “Families will be happy to participate as long as we look at some of the barriers that exist.”
Photo via Seth Cottle on Unsplash
Compost Crew, a local food waste collection company, recently began service for homes in Reston.
The Rockville-based company provides weekly clean and convenient curbside organic waste collection in the area roughly between Herndon and Lake Audubon. Customers separate out their food scraps and leave them out once a week, just like you would with trash or recycling.
Compost Crew serves thousands of homes and businesses in the DMV area, including curbside service for hundreds of Falls Church residents in a program sponsored by the City. Keeping food waste out of the landfill reduces greenhouse gas emissions and creates a beneficial soil amendment called compost, which helps gardeners everywhere grow healthy plants.
Many people find that composting their food waste reduces the amount of trash they generate in their home by 25 to 50 percent. For about $1 per day, you can make a real difference.
Receive lower rates through our Community Program by getting neighbors to sign up with you! Have everyone interested fill out this form, and we will reach out with more information. We will help every step of the way.
To learn more about our service and to get started, head to the Compost Crew website.
Reston Association’s Environmental Advisory Committee is in the process of developing a pilot program that will encourage local restaurants to reduce the use of single-use plastics.
The voluntary program is currently in the planning stages by the committee, according to a recent news release by RA.
With the program in the background, the committee hopes to raise awareness about the dangers of using single-use plastics, which are made from petrochemicals and are made to be used once. Examples include bottles, straws, plastic cutlery, and bags.
Here’s more from RA on the issue:
By 2050, plastic in the ocean will outweigh fish, according to sources cited by the EAC. Single-use plastic comes at a steep price to the environment, which we will be paying for millennia. For example, a single plastic bottle can take 450 years to degrade.
The Green Education Foundation offers a number of tips on how to use less plastic. They include refraining from using plastic straws, particularly in restaurants. The foundation also recommends reusable produce bags for grocery shoppers. Plastic bags can take 1,000 years to degrade.
Details on the pilot program will be released on the program has launched, according to RA.
Inspired by nearby jurisdictions’ efforts, Fairfax County officials want to expand its compost pilot to benefit residents.
Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck shared during the Environmental Committee meeting yesterday that the county staff is pushing for new ideas to reuse compost.
“Arlington, D.C., Montgomery — a lot of them are already doing this kind of thing,” Storck said. “This is a limited pilot.”
According to county documents, Storck would ask the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) to research and report back on options to bring the county’s internal compost pilot to the public.
Some preliminary ideas include placing “green” compost bins next to the purple bins for glass recycling, collecting compost at farmers markets and school sites and providing compost materials at the I-95 Landfill Complex & I-66 Transfer Station, according to a county document.
Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw said that he wants the county to share more information about backyard composting.
“The ideal scenario would be that all of us in the county who have a backyard in which to compost would do that there rather than getting in their car and transporting it somewhere else,” Walkinshaw said, adding that people who live in apartments or don’t have backyards would benefit from the compost bins.
“I’d be concerned about having an unstaffed location for things that could collect that become then a dump site,” Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross said.
Gross noted the glass recycling bins are regularly staffed: “So far with our purple cans, it’s been great.”
Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said she supports the pilot idea and agrees with her fellow supervisors that the county should look into staffing and education around the pilot program.
Storck said he plans to bring forward a board matter next week with green initiatives that will include the compost bins.
Photo via Seth Cottle/Unsplash
The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt on glass recycling in Fairfax County, including the Town of Herndon.
Now, officials are resuming the glass recycling service, also known as the Purple Can Club, according to the county’s website.
The collection of glass dropped off at purple, glass-only containers resumes on Monday, May 11.
Containers are currently being reset at locations throughout the county. The Reston bin is located at the Reston South Park and Ride (2431 Reston Parkway). Another bin is located at Great Falls Library.
Residents can also bring glass containers at the I-66 transfer station and the I-95 landfill complex. Free mulch service also resumed on Saturday, May 2.
The county suspended glass recycling at the purple bins in mid-March.
Photo via Fairfax County Government
The Town of Herndon is proposing to double recycling fees, which are paid quarterly, from $8 to $16.
The Herndon Town Council will consider the proposal at a meeting tonight (Tuesday). The fee was last increased 2019 from $4 to $8 per quarter.
But since then, the recycling industry has suffered dramatic changes.
“Commodity prices are no longer as they once were and processing costs have continued to increase, while tonnages have either remained the same or increased,” Tammy Chastain, deputy director public works, wrote in a memo.
If approved, the increase would offset roughly 83 percent of recycling costs that the town bears. Currently, the recycling fee only covers 42 percent of the cost of recycling.
The fee increase would go into effect on July 1.
Photo via Patricia Valerio/Unsplash
In an effort to protects its workforce during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Town of Herndon is suspending curbside pick-up of yard waste.
Residents can also expect delays in normal collection times because crews are working on rotational schedules in order to maintain social distancing requirements.
“This change allows crews to prioritize and safely collect residential refuse and recycling,” according to a statement from the town.
Residents should comprise their yard waste at home or “wait to place it curbside until service returns to normal.”
“We appreciate your understanding. We are working to protect our workforce during the current public health emergency while ensuring that trash and recyclables are collected.”
The town offered the following tips to create better working conditions for its workforce:
1. REDUCE THE WASTE YOU GENERATE- During this unprecedented time, residents should be mindful of the quantity of waste they generate, so as not to overwhelm the collection system. For example, this is not the best time to clean out the garage/do spring cleaning.
2. STOP SETTING OUT YARD WASTE AT THE CURB. Start grasscycling, backyard composting, and limit generation of yard waste if possible. Residents may take their Yard waste to the I-66 transfer station and I-95 landfill complex.
3. BAG ALL TRASH and REFUSE – Bagged trash limits exposure to potentially harmful materials, such as used tissue that could spread viruses and bacteria.
4. KEEP ALL RECYCLING CLEAN AND LOOSE – When recycling is loose in the bin, not in bags, it is easier to process. Removing food and liquid residue from recyclables minimizes the spread of viruses and bacteria. Only place plastic bottles and jugs, paper, cardboard, cartons and metal cans in the bin.
5. EMPTY ALL LIQUIDS – Liquids in bottles, cans, and other containers can carry viruses and bacteria and can splash onto collectors when trash and recyclables are emptied.
6. WIPE/DISINFECT CART HANDLES AND LIDS – The two main touch points on a cart for collectors are the lid and the handles. By wiping those areas down with disinfectant or soapy water, you minimize the danger of shared contact areas.
7. SEAL AND MARK ALL SHARPS/NEEDLES – Properly dispose of medical sharp objects such as syringes by placing them in a sealed, rigid plastic container. Seal the container with sturdy tape, clearly mark it as “Sharps,” and place in the trash.
New trash recycling rules also went into effect in Fairfax County on Monday (March 30).
Photo via Patricia Valerio/Unsplash
Local residents can expect changes to their trash and recycling starting today (March 30).
Fairfax County announced on Friday that the Solid Waste Management Program is making some changes to trash and recycling collection to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
“These changes will remain in effect until the public health emergency passes,” the county said. “Additional changes may be announced if the situation worsens in our area.”
The county says that administrative buildings and donation stations are closed, along with the household hazardous waste and e-waste stations at the I-95 landfill complex. People can still find those stations at the I-66 transfer station.
The glass recycling drop-off bins have been temporarily suspended, and people are now asked to bring their glass recycling to the I-66 transfer station and I-95 landfill complex or to place the glass items in the trash.
Here’s what else has been suspended:
- yard waste collection
- 30-day prior notice requirements for change of collection schedule or services
- support for community clean-ups
- bulk/brush and electronic waste collection
- support for the litter removal program
- secure document shredding events
“These changes apply to all private haulers (90 percent of county) and county collections customers (10 percent),” the county said.
To help protect sanitation workers and residents from the coronavirus, the county asks that people reduce the amount of waste they generate, bag all trash and refuse, empty and clean containers that contained liquids and residue from food and regularly disinfect cart handles and lids.
Photo via City of Falls Church
A new glass recycling program that went into effect in Fairfax County last year has shattered expectations, officials say.
The policy shift resulted in the placement of several purple bins across Northern Virginia for glass recycling. The county no longer accepts glass containers in its curbside recycling program.
More than four million pounds of recyclable glass has been collected since the program began.
The continent’s largest glass recycler, Strategic Materials, is now moving the county’s glass to a processing plant in Lorton. Glass will be sold to manufacturers of different glass products.
A spokesperson for Strategic Materials said that Fairfax County produced particularly clean, usable glass.
“Fairfax County probable has the highest quality of material we’ve seen in a drop-off program,” said Laura Henneman, Vice President of marketing and communications for the company.” The trial glass load was about 98 to 99 percent usable glass, which is incredible.”
Drop-off locations are throughout Northern Virginia are available below:
Photo via Fairfax County Government
County’s New Glass Recycling Program Shatters Expectations — “In just a few months, Fairfax County’s new glass-recycling program is reportedly getting great results. Since the county started its “Purple Can Club” last spring, 2.8 million pounds of glass have been dropped off in special collection bins, one official said.” [WTOP]
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department Accepts Toys for Donation — The department is participating in the region-wide toys for tons campaign. Children served by this campaign include toddlers and youth through age 17. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]
County Launches Dog Park Study — The Fairfax County Park Authority is conducting a comprehensive study of off-leash dog areas in the county in order to assess current and future needs and opportunities for dog parts throughout the county. [Fairfax County Government]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
The Town of Herndon will no longer collect glass during curbside pickup, joining the county in an effort to shift glass recycling to purple dumpsters throughout the county.
While Restonians can drop off glass recyclables at the Reston South Park and Ride lot, Town of Herndon residents can head over to a purple dumpster at town’s public works complex (1479 Sterling Road).
Fairfax County officials shifted to the purple bins as part of a regional glass recycling program called the “Purple Can Club.”
Officials note that recycled glass often ends up in landfills because it breaks doing the transportation process and mixes with other recyclable materials.
Residents can drop off all types of emptied glass containers — including bottles and jars. Residue should be removed from the materials before recycling.
Photo via Town of Herndon
Fairfax County residents are no longer required to place glass bottles, jars, and other glass items in curbside recycling bins.
The change, which went into effect on Tuesday (Oct. 1), was made at the request of private recycling sorting centers and Covanta Fairfax, Inc., which operates the area’s waste-to-energy plant.
In the past, county officials say single-stream recycling has caused major problems. Glass recyclables often break during collection and transport to recycling centers, contaminating other more valuable recycled items like cardboard and metals.
In recent years, China, the largest customer of recycled materials, has begun imposing strict standards on the quality of accepted recycled materials.
County officials also say glass has damaged machinery and is often heavy, adding costs to transporting recyclables to centers.
Residents can deliver glass containers to one of 21 purple recycling bins in the county. Recently, a new bin was added to the Reston South Park and Ride lot.
All colors of clean glass bottles and jars are accepted at purple containers. Light bulbs, lamps, ceramics, porcelain, mirrors, window, and sheet glass cannot be recycled at the sites.
Collected glass will be processed by the region’s only glass processing plant in Lorton. Recycled materials will be used for pipe bedding, filter material, and other purposes.
Photo via Fairfax County Government
Residents can drop off glass for recycling at a new purple dumpster at the Reston South Park and Ride lot. The bin, which is located on the southeast corner of the lot, is part of the county’s efforts to encourage glass recycling.
Most recycled glass in curbside recycling bins ends up in landfills because the glass breaks during transportation to the county’s recycling facility and mixes with other recyclable materials, according to the county. Collected glass will be used for construction materials.
All colors of emptied glass — including bottles and jars — are acceptable. Residue should be removed from the material before recycling.
Items that include food, plastic bags, lamps or light bulbs, ceramics, mirrors, windows, porcelain and glass sheets will not be accepted. Glass recyclable will also be accepted for collection in curbside pickup.
The regional glass recycling program, which is called Purple Can Club, kicked off in April. The county partnered with the City of Alexandria, Prince William County, and Arlington County to bring several glass-only bins to Northern Virginia.
The Town of Herndon is kickstarting the annual fall clean-up week in October.
The week, which is designed to encourage residents to place large or bulky items outside for curbside pick-up, will happen from October 7-11.
Items that can be placed outside for curbside pick-up include appliances, furniture, vehicles parts and plumbing fixtures, tires, and a limited amount of building materials.
Only two tires can be disposed of per household and vehicle parts and plumbing fixtures must be under 50 pounds. Building materials cannot exit one cubic yard, with lengths under four feet.
The pick-up service, which is set for the same day of scheduled trash collection, does not include yard waste and electronics.
Items must be placed on the curbside by 7 a.m. on residents’ scheduled trash day.
For questions and concerns, email [email protected].
Photo via Patricia Valerio/Unsplash
After more than 20 years of business-as-usual, changes are underway to the Town of Herndon’s trash and recycling collection schedule.
Beginning on August 5, recycling collection days will change for all residents, while trash collection days will change for some residents.
The changes are “needed to increase collection efficiency, balance routes, consolidate collection areas, and allow for existing and future development,” according to the town’s website.
No changes to the level of service offered by the town’s curbside collection program are proposed.
All recycling days will change to either Monday or Tuesday. Trash collections days will be on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.
Residents can visit the town’s website to see their new schedule. All containers must be at the curb by no later than 6 a.m. on the scheduled collection day.
Photo via Patricia Valerio/Unsplash