DEQ: Recycling rate increases in Virginia

The recycling rate in Virginia increased in the year 2020, as reported by 71 planning units across the Commonwealth. Of the 11 million tons of municipal solid waste processed, 5.3 million were reported as recycled. 

“However, some planning units faced recycling challenges due to the COVID 19 pandemic, lack of recycling markets in their regions and difficulty in obtaining recycling information from private businesses,” reads the executive summary of a report generated by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. 

Of that 5.3 million tons, 3.9 million were classified as principal recyclable materials and 1.4 million were in the form of credits. 

Recyclable materials include: Paper, metal, plastic, glass, commingled materials, yard waste, waste wood, textiles, waste tires, used oil, used oil filters, used antifreeze, inoperative automobiles, batteries, electronics and other.

Credits refers to: Recycling residues, solid waste reused, non-MSW recycled (includes construction and demolition material, ash and debris) and source reduction initiatives. 

Visit the Department of Environmental Quality’s website to learn more about recycling data

Under Virginia code, localities or the regions they are within must develop a solid waste management plan. In this area, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District does that work on behalf of Albemarle, Charlottesville, Greene, and Fluvanna. The towns of Scottsville and Standardsville are also covered by the TJPDC which reports a recycling rate of 41.9 percent. 

Louisa County runs its own sanitary landfill and is its own solid waste planning unit. They report a recycling rate of 29.5 percent. 

The Lunenberg County solid waste planning unit reported a 78.8 percent recycling rate, the highest in the state. Lee County in Southwest Virginia reported the lowest at 10.4 percent. Virginia code requires localities to be above 15 percent. 

The report singles out Arlington County for improving the recycling rate by prohibiting glass from the single-stream recycling system. Instead, Arlington set-up five drop-off locations to ensure glass would not be contaminated by other materials. Over 1,429 tons of clean glass was collected. 

“The removal of glass from the residential curbside recycling program had the added benefit of boosting the overall value of a ton of the single-stream recycling significantly,” reads the report. 

To learn more about Arlington’s program, visit their website.

On Thursday, the operations subcommittee of Albemarle’s Solid Waste Alternatives Advisory Committee meets.  On the agenda is an update on efforts to increase the market for glass recycling to attract interest from a processing company. I wrote about this topic back in January and will be interested in getting an update. (meeting info)

See also:  Group seeks information from beverage producers on glass recycling, January 26, 2021

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