Recycling Becomes Mandatory

(Gerald Martineau - The Washington Post)
Thursday, July 12, 2007

Recycling is moving past being an option, and mixed paper and cardboard recycling is now mandatory under a measure adopted by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors a year ago.

Such recycling has been an option for residents and businesses, and the amount recycled has increased since 2006 by 11.5 percent to 193,098 tons.

The county's Solid Waste Management Program now manages more than 1.5 million tons of municipal solid waste and recyclables a year and estimates it will handle an additional 139,000 to 500,000 tons a year by 2025.

In a statement about the mandatory recycling, Jeffrey M. Smithberger, director of the county's recycling effort, said, "Due to the abundance of, demand for and the value of mixed paper and cardboard in our local recyclables market, these materials presented the best opportunity for increasing our recycling efforts on a countywide level."

The rate of recycling for Northern Virginia is up slightly over last year to 36 percent of recyclable materials, higher than the statewide rate of about 32 percent.

The survey that showed the increase was conducted this year by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission for the Northern Virginia Waste Management Board. Cities, towns and counties in Northern Virginia, suburban Maryland and the District were asked about refuse and recycling services.

Regional officials point out that the number of households receiving recycling services increased slightly, and officials hope this will lead more people to recycle.

"We can close the 'recycling loop' when we realize that recycling provides materials for new products with recycled content," said Jane Tatum, who chairs the Northern Virginia board and is assistant director of solid waste management for Loudoun County. "Also, recycling conserves landfill space, which is expensive to replace and maintain over time."

Barbara A. Favola, chairman of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission and a member of the Arlington County Board, said, "The more we can do to make it easier for residents to recycle will help the environment, save energy and dollars and turn more trash into products we can use."

In the survey, local governments were asked for information about rate structures, availability, requirements, markets, fees and other matters.

Among survey highlights:

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