By Ibrahim A. Moiz, Sterling
In Loudoun County, much of our recyclable materials are not required to be recycled and are being dumped into our landfills.
The County has published information on proper recycling procedure, including lists of acceptable materials. However, since its publication, the range of materials accepted for recycling continues to lessen. As a result, the number of recyclables ending up in our landfills is growing, damaging the health of our environment.
Glass has become increasingly difficult to recycle in this region due to recent changes in recycling markets and challenges faced by waste management personnel. This means that most of the glass materials set out for recycling in Loudoun are not being recycled. All that hard work that Sterling and Loudoun residents do to clean their glass containers before placing them in recycling is for naught.
While neighboring jurisdictions have also found it problematic to recycle glass, alternatives have been identified and plan of action has been implemented. Fairfax County recently invested in a glass crusher and is crushing glass and using the final product as a road-base aggregate. Alexandria, Arlington, and Prince William have entered into a strategic partnership with Fairfax County and have placed containers within their jurisdictions for residents to dispose of their glass. The glass is then picked up and transported to the crusher in Fairfax.
Loudoun County has made a conscious decision not to join the partnership because, according to County officials, “it may likely be that the only benefit… would be just to get the glass out of a landfill. It may not have any environmental benefit.” This is the problem with Loudoun’s lackadaisical approach to protecting our environment. Anytime we are able to reuse and repurpose materials, as opposed to dumping it in our landfills, is a benefit to our environment.
It is imperative that Loudoun partners with neighboring jurisdictions to work towards a better tomorrow. To address our recycling crisis, Loudoun needs to join the strategic partnership with Fairfax County. In addition to this, we can (1) expand our curbside recycling services to currently unincorporated areas of the county, aiming for universal service and a public-private partnership; and (2) adopt the program the City of Falls Church has implemented in its voluntary curbside food waste collection and composting program.
Our supervisors must research and explore what other jurisdictions are doing to solve our recycling crisis. In order to reimagine Loudoun, we must apply global solutions to our most local problems.
Ibrahim A. Moiz, Sterling