Alexandria, VA The City of Alexandria, Fairfax County, Arlington County, and Prince William County have announced a new strategic partnership to improve glass recovery and recycling. These jurisdictions have committed to collecting glass via purple glass-only drop-off containers. The glass will then be transported to a Fairfax County processing plant, where it will be recycled into a variety of products.
In Northern Virginia, glass collected in curbside recycling bins is sent to recycling facilities where it eventually ends up in landfills. During transportation to the facility, glass is broken and becomes mixed with recycling residue (such as small bits of plastic and paper) during the sorting process. This recycling contamination, along with rising recycling costs and lack of a market for single-stream processed glass has made glass unrecoverable across the county.
The new glass-only drop-off containers address this issue by diverting glass recyclables to a specialized plant for responsible recycling.
In Alexandria, glass-only purple drop-off bins have been placed at the City’s four recycling drop-off centers, which are open 24 hours a day. The City continues to accept glass as part of its curbside collection.
In Fairfax County, residents and businesses are encouraged to bring glass to purple drop-off centers at the I-66 transfer station and I-95 landfill complex. Arlington County’s two Recycling Drop-off Centers, located at Quincy Park and the Trades Center, now feature glass-only containers for residents and small business owners operating in Arlington.
All colors of emptied glass bottles and jars are acceptable materials for glass drop-off. Food residue from jars should be rinsed out before placing glass in the bins. Metal lids may be kept on jars and bottles and will be separated at the processing plant. Plastic and cork lids should be removed and recycled or discarded separately. Items that are not accepted include food, plastic bags, lamps or light bulbs, ceramics, porcelain, mirrors, windows, and glass sheets.
Once glass is brought to Fairfax County’s processing plant at the I-95 landfill complex, machinery recovers any metal (such as bottle caps), crushes the glass, removes labels and other detritus, and then screens the product into various grades of sand and gravel. The plant is capable of crushing 20 tons of glass per hour and pulverizes glass bottles and jars into sand and gravel that can be used for paving, construction and landscaping. In paving projects, for instance, the crushed glass can replace gravel to make “glassphalt.” It can also be used to make concrete, and in different drainage and stormwater control applications.
For more information about recycling in Alexandria, visit alexandriava.gov/Recycling.