Solid Waste and Recycling

The Northern Virginia Waste Management Board

Although, Northern Virginia jurisdictions manage solid waste and recycling programs independently, they collaborate on common regional concerns through the Northern Virginia Waste Management Board, staffed by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission. The Northern Virginia Waste Management Board, composed of solid waste managers and public works directors from each of NVRC’s member jurisdictions, was created in 1989 to promote regional approaches and solutions to recycling and waste management issues in Northern Virginia.   

While Northern Virginia’s jurisdictions manage solid waste and recycling programs independently, they also collaborate on common regional concerns through the Northern Virginia Waste Management Board.  The Waste Board focuses its efforts on initiatives such as: 

Regional Message on Waste Management and COVID-19

Media Release 

What to do? Minimize waste

Northern Virginia Jurisdictions strongly urge residents to minimize waste:

  • Do not set extra bags outside the cart.
  • Keep your spring-cleaning pile in the basement, attic or garage for now.
  • Flatten cardboard boxes to create more room in the recycling cart
  • Grass cycle lawn clippings.
  • Make sure all trash is in a bag and bags are securely closed.
  • No plastic bags in recycling, make sure recyclables are empty, clean and dry. Check with your county, city or town for what to include in recycling.
  • Dispose of used wipes, tissues, and paper towels in trash bags that are tied shut and place inside trash containers for disposal. Never dispose of disposable wipes, paper towels, rags and similar items in the toiletthese items damage sewer systems to the point of system failures and potential backups.
  • Don’t litter—when outside the home, properly dispose of masks, gloves, wipes and other items in the trash.

Keep Our Workers and Communities Safe!

In Northern Virginia, local governments manage residential trash, recycling, and yard waste independently, but share disposal facilities. These facilities are now operating at close to capacity and struggling with labor shortages. With stay-at-home orders in place, jurisdictions are facing unusual increases in the amount of trash and recycling generated, leading to greater safety risks to collection workers and overburdening waste and recycling systems. Our region is not alone. This is a national trend and some regions of the country have experienced the closure of waste and recycling facilities. Our collection crews are critical to civic life and they work daily on the front lines to manage and handle recycling and trash. 

Curbside trash and recycling collection are vital to community health and safety. During this difficult time, waste managers are committed to doing what we can to continue to provide this essential service. Beginning in mid-March, residential trash tonnage increased by up to 40% as residents began staying at home to help combat COVID-19. This increase in trash left for pickup is causing a strain on our waste management systems. Litter has increased in parks, trails, and parking lots, including gloves, masks, wipes, and other discarded protective equipment. These items pose a risk to storm water systems, waterways and wildlife.

Every morning, collection crews are reporting to work while facing the same life challenges as residents. To help ensure crew health and safety as well as daily completion of routes, Northern Virginia counties, towns, and cities ask residents to please follow these guidelines so we can ensure the viability of the region’s collection programs.