Arlington County Goes Green with New Year-Round Yard Waste Collection

  • Curbside collection, composting of yard waste year-round
  • New yard waste collection carts for residents this summer
  • Annual Household Solid Waste Rate to increase by $13.28; effective July 1
  • Moves toward “Zero Waste” goal

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Arlington County Board today authorized a request to advertise an amendment to its refuse code that will bring year-round curbside collection of yard waste to households starting this July. The new program, already provided by most neighboring localities, is expected to divert up to an additional 9,000 tons of compostable material from the waste stream, further increasing the residential recycling rate by up to 13 percent.

“Recycling yard waste year-round is an important program that promises to make a difference for our environment,” said Arlington County Chair Jay Fisette. “Eliminating organics from the waste stream will move us toward setting and achieving a zero waste goal for future generations.”

The County's Household Solid Waste Rate will increase by $13.28 to cover the new program, establishing a new total annual rate of $307.04 per household. The rate, lower than neighboring jurisdictions, is designed to fully recover the costs associated with residential waste collection and disposal. The program will be included in a new contract for waste services to begin in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, which begins July 1.

The Board will hold a public hearing on June 14 to consider the proposed amendment.

New Carts for Residential Collection

As part of the proposed amendment, the County will roll out new yard waste collection carts to each Arlington household in August and September, which will enable them to recycle their yard waste year-round. 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 new carts will be green in color to help distinguish their function and will be accompanied by composting educational material from the County.

The phased rollout is expected to be complete by the end of September. Residents who do not generate significant amounts of yard waste or prefer to use paper bags will have the option to opt out of the new cart. With the convenience of this new service, the County is prohibiting the use of plastic bags for organics because the plastic prevents the organics from being composted. Details will be provided in a forthcoming letter to citizens and on the County website.

Recycling in Arlington

Arlington County recently boasted its highest-ever recycling rate of 51.1 percent for calendar year 2012, thanks to increased residential participation. On May 14, 2014, the County will receive the award for “Outstanding Leadership” from the Virginia Recycling Association for notable waste reduction efforts. Building on the success of the County's recycling program, Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette earlier this year proposed the adoption of an ambitious new 25-year goal to achieve zero waste by diverting 90 percent of waste from landfills and incineration. The goal is defined by the Zero Waste International Alliance and is the standard used across the globe for solid waste organizations. The County Board will consider a zero waste resolution in the fall.

Arlington Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the “10 miles square” parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. Slightly smaller than 26 square miles, it is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, and one of only a handful with the prized Aaa/AAA/AAA bond rating. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods and quality schools, and has received numerous awards for Smart Growth and transit-oriented development. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world — including the Pentagon — Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.