Arlington County is considering expanding our seasonal residential yard waste collection services that occur in the spring and fall to year-round, weekly collection services.
The results of a resident survey will be presented to the Arlington County Board, who will then make the decision about whether or not to adopt year-round yard waste collection services.
Arlington County’s current seasonal yard waste collection program is limited to 6 weeks in the spring (March/April) and 10 weeks in the fall (September/October) of each year. Yard waste set out by residents in biodegradable paper yard waste bags during these time frames is collected for composting. During the remainder of the year, yard waste is collected as trash and incinerated at a waste-to-energy facility. In addition, yard waste set out in plastic bags is always collected as trash because plastic is not accepted by composting facilities.
Adding year-round yard waste collection services would:
- Allow residents to have their yard waste composted rather than thrown away.
- Increase the County’s recycling percentage by up to 13 percent.
- Divert approximately an additional 9,000 tons of compostable material.
- Make Arlington's service one of the most comprehensive in the region.
What will this cost?
The cost per household for year-round yard waste collection services, under the optional terms of the new contract, is $33.96 per year (adjusted annually for inflation).
The cost for a new organics cart, under the optional terms of the new contract, is $11.40 per year, for five years, and $1.44 per year (adjusted annually for inflation) for organics cart maintenance for a total of $12.84 per year.
With year-round yard waste collection, the annual household solid waste rate (HSWR) plus the organics cart would increase by approximately $47 per year.
Next Steps After the Survey
County staff will review the survey results and present to the County Board, who will then consider whether year-round yard waste will be added to the other waste collection services during the November 2015 meeting.
The final FY 2016 fee for Household Solid Waste will be determined once the new contract and the service-level is negotiated.
What do other local jurisdictions do?
Currently, Arlington County has the lowest household solid waste rate in the region. The County’s rate is roughly $66 dollars less expensive compared to the next lowest cost jurisdiction.
Neighboring jurisdictions who provide year-round yard waste collection to residential customers services do so at a higher annual rate:
- City of Alexandria - $337 per year
- City of Falls Church - $345 per year
- Fairfax County - $345 per year
If the County adds year-round yard waste collection services with an organics yard waste cart, it will cost approximately $304 per year. Arlington can maintain the lowest rate in the area, even while including these services.
This program enhancement will also support Arlington County Solid Waste Bureau's goals of providing convenient, comprehensive, cost effective and conservation focused solid waste services to the community.
Organics Yard Waste Cart
As part of the proposed new service, an organics yard waste cart will be distributed to each household unless you opt out of delivery.
Customers should use biodegradable paper bags, tied bundles or personal household containers until their cart is delivered.
What will happen to the biodegradable paper yard waste bags?
Free bags will still be available for pickup at the following locations during leaf collection season in the fall and for six-weeks in the spring. Bags are limited to ten per household. Biodegradable paper bags are also available at most hardware stores.
Yard Maintenance Services
If you contract with a landscaping company that uses your County-provided collection services to dispose of your yard waste, you as the resident are responsible for coordinating with your contractor to make sure that any yard waste isn't set out for collection before 5 p.m. on the day prior to your service day, and yard waste is set out in your County-provided yard waste cart, paper bags, tied bundles less than 4 feet in length or personal household containers between 20 and 32 gallons. Your contractor may not use plastic. Plastic isn't compostable and won't be collected. Only biodegradable paper yard waste bags will be collected:
Accepted Yard Waste
- Bamboo trimmings
- Dead plants
- Dethatching material
- Flower and vegetable bed debris (corn stalks, tomato plants, etc.)
- Grass clippings
- Ornamental grass
- Pine cones and needles
- Shrub trimmings
- Small tree limbs
- Wood chips
For large tree trunks, limbs or shrubs, schedule a brush pickup.
Where does yard waste go once collected? Yard waste material that's collected will be delivered to a Virginia-permitted composting facility certified by the U.S. Composting Council.