City of F.C. Ranked Best in Virginia for Recycling Rate, New Bins Due

Recycling Czar Allan Says Bins Set for Delivery

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has released its annual recycling report, and recycling rates in Falls Church put the City at the top of its statewide list.

Recycling Czar Allan Says Bins Set for Delivery

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has released its annual recycling report, and recycling rates in Falls Church put the City at the top of its statewide list.

The news comes just as the City is about to roll out its new wheeled refuse and recycling carts for most citizens this week.

In 2009, 57.6 percent of the City’s waste was recycled, compared to a rate of 38.6 percent in the state, with 324 cities, counties, towns and solid waste planning areas reporting their recycling rates. For Falls Church, this amounted to 7,183 tons of recycled materials, which included paper, cardboard, glass, plastics, metals, yard debris and leaves.

“It means a great deal to us, and it should mean a great deal to City residents,” said City Environmental Programs Specialist Katherine Allan of the accomplishment. “It’s not only environmentally a good thing, but the more we recycle, the more taxes we save. By diverting solid waste from the incinerator, we actually save money in fees. It’s good all the way around.”

According to Allan, a large part of the City’s success in maintaining a high recycling rate is due to its ability to communicate information about the program to the around 3,100 households it provides recycling services to – be that through volunteers that walk their communities and educate their neighbors, visits to area schools, announcements in the News-Press, or advertising through the City’s website and other publications.

“We try to get the word out about our programs as often as possible,” Allan said.

In the past five years, recycling rates have been between 54 and 60 percent in the City.

“We have had a very high recycling rate traditionally, and usually we are in the top five of the state,” Allan said. “We are lucky in that not only do we have good programs, but we have a responsive and responsible citizenry that are really interested in doing their part and contributing to our big success.”

Though the City’s performance may seem impressive compared to the state average and the average of neighboring communities – Fairfax County’s rate was 39.4 percent and Arlington County’s rate was 40 percent – these numbers reflect only a step in the direction that the City is moving. In June 2004, City Council approved the City of Falls Church Solid Waste Management Plan, a 20-year plan which aims to increase recycling rates to 65 percent.

The City hopes that the introduction of about 5,500 new wheeled carts will encourage greater residential recycling. Beginning Thursday, Dec. 2, the Department of Environmental Services will be providing residents in detached homes with 65-gallon covered, rolling carts that can be used for collecting recyclables, along with a rolling cart to be used for refuse.

“We try to make it as convenient as possible for our customers, and that helps them to be able to recycle more.”

Residents of attached homes, such as condominiums and townhouses, were given the option in June to continue with their original disposal methods, or to sign up to receive either 35- or 65-gallon recycling and refuse receptacles.

“We wish everyone would choose a cart because we know it will help to increase recycling,” Allan said. “But with space constraints that may not always be possible.”

Additionally, the City will make accommodations for those with disabilities that prevent them from being able to use the carts.

“Communities that have implemented rolling carts usually see a big jump in their recycling rates,” Allan said. “We don’t expect to see a huge jump, as [the recycling rate in the City] it is already pretty high, but we do expect to see a jump.”

The carts will provide more space for the customers to recycle, when compared to the 18-gallon uncovered bins that the city currently provides. Additionally, the lids will keep the contents dry and prevent wind-caused littering.

“We’re really excited about that,” Allan said.

And according to Allan, city officials aren’t the only ones excited about the change.

“About 95 percent of customers have expressed that they are pleased that they will have more room for their recycling,” Allan said. “Most people are exited about having a bigger space for their recycling and a trash cart with a sturdy lid made of sturdy plastic that is virtually animal proof.”

The City will deliver, combining recycling and refuse receptacle numbers, about 5,500 carts. The process of providing residences with the two new carts may take up to three weeks, and in the meantime residents are asked to continue recycling in their regular containers by putting containers at the curb by 7 a.m. on Wednesday or after 5 p.m. on Tuesday.