ALEXANDRIA, VA — At its regular meeting on January 12, the Alexandria City Council unanimously adopted WasteSmart, a comprehensive, 20-year strategic plan that will ensure the City’s sustainable resource recovery program remains safe, effective, efficient, and environmentally sound in the coming decades.
“The adoption of the WasteSmart Strategic Plan affirms the City’s commitment to protecting the environment and creating a strong, resilient Eco-City,” said Mayor Justin Wilson. “Realizing our vision of WasteSmart will require help from all corners of our community – not just from our residents, but also from our partners in the commercial sector.”
The global recycling market has experienced tremendous pressure, primarily due to a series of recycling policies implemented by China, the largest importer of scrap materials. To consider how Alexandria should adapt to this market shift, City staff launched an extensive public engagement process in 2017 and 2018 to better understand and incorporate customers’ needs, values and priorities.
More than 1,500 residents, businesses, visitors, and employees participated in the WasteSmart Strategic Plan drafting process and provided feedback on solid waste priorities in Alexandria. Many core action items were developed concurrently with the solid waste action items in the City’s Phase 1 Environmental Action Plan, which was adopted by City Council in 2018.
The plan is built on a series of short-, medium-, and long-term action items. For example, a planned route optimization study will help make solid waste vehicular trips more efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Glass recycling currently presents a special challenge based on China’s strict standards for the degree to which glass must be free of contamination from other materials. Single-stream (mixed) recycling collection increases the chances that glass may not be accepted by overseas buyers. In the first few years of the WasteSmart plan’s implementation, the City will install special containers for glass-only collection at all recycling drop-off centers throughout Alexandria and launch a “Recycle Right” education campaign, while continuing to collect glass as part of single-stream curbside recycling.
The public will be able to track the plan’s progress on the WasteSmart webpage. As the solid waste industry continues to evolve, the City will also aim to revisit and update goals and action items every three to five years, or if a dramatic change occurs in the industry.
For more information, including the full WasteSmart Strategic Plan and accompanying technical materials, visit alexandriava.gov/WasteSmart.