Rap­pa­han­nock County has worst re­cy­cling rate in state

Vir­ginia: 42.8% | Rapp: 15.2%

Rappahannock News - - FRONT PAGE - By John Mc­caslin Rap­pa­han­nock News staff

Rap­pa­han­nock County in 2017 had the low­est re­cy­cling rate of 117 coun­ties, cities and towns across the com­mon­wealth that sub­mit­ted data to the Vir­ginia De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity (DEQ).

So re­veals the “Com­mon­wealth of Vir­ginia’s 2017 Re­cy­cling Sum­mary Re­port,” is­sued by the the DEQ and dated No­vem­ber 2018.

“Based on data from 117 lo­cal gov­ern­ments across the com­mon­wealth, the state re­cy­cling rate is 42.8 per­cent, which con­tin­ues the pos­i­tive trend in Vir­ginia’s re­cy­cling ef­forts,” the re­port states.

In Rap­pa­han­nock County, which has re­cy­cling cen­ters in Wash­ing­ton and Amissville, the re­cy­cling rate was only 15.2 per­cent — 598 re­cy­cled tons — the low­est re­cy­cling per­cent­age of all re­port­ing com­mu­ni­ties in Vir­ginia, re­gard­less of pop­u­la­tion.

The next worst re­cy­cling rate after Rap­pa­han­nock was 17.3 per­cent (2,875 tons) in Bote­tourt County, which is west of Lynch­burg; and 19.7 per­cent (483 tons) in Craig County, north­west of Roanoke.

In com­par­i­son, Fauquier County’s re­cy­cle rate was 41.3 per­cent (36,278 tons), Loudoun 37.1 per­cent (159,376 tons), Prince Wil­liam 34.6 per­cent (228,512 tons), Spot­syl­va­nia 35 per­cent (69,915 tons) and Fair­fax 48.8 per­cent (620,255 tons).

Juris­dic­tions with pop­u­la­tions above 100,000 are re­quired to sub­mit re­cy­cle data an­nu­ally to the DEQ, while with com­mu­ni­ties like Rap­pa­han­nock be­low 100,000 peo­ple the re­ports sub­mit­ted for 2017 were on a vol­un­teer ba­sis. How­ever, re­cy­cling sur­veys are re­quired from Rap­pa­han­nock and other low-pop­u­lated juris­dic­tions ev­ery four years, with the next re­ports due in 2020.

Culpeper and Madi­son coun­ties chose not to pro­vide data this year.

War­ren and Page coun­ties, which bor­der Rap­pa­han­nock, are in­cluded in the North­ern Shenan­doah Val­ley Re­gional Com­mis­sion Solid Waste Plan­ning Unit (SWPU), which in­cludes Clarke, Fred­er­ick, Shenan­doah, and the city of Winch­ester. This par­tic­u­lar unit, with a com­bined pop­u­la­tion well above 100,000 peo­ple, had the se­cond high­est re­cy­cling rate in Vir­ginia in 2017 at 56.6 per­cent (133,018 tons), just be­hind the Rich­mond area.

The high­est re­cy­cling rate among re­port­ing juris­dic­tions be­low 100,000 peo­ple was the town of Vin­ton, near Roanoke, at 64 per­cent (5,744 tons).

“The trend for Vir­ginia con­tin­ues to move in a steady, pos­i­tive di­rec­tion,” said DEQ Land Pro­tec­tion and Re­newal Divi­sion Di­rec­tor Justin Wil­liams. “For ex­am­ple, four years ago the rate was 41 per­cent, which was well above the state man­dated rate of 25 per­cent. To­day, we have nine lo­cal plan­ning units re­port­ing amounts that are near 50 per­cent or higher.”

More than 100 Vir­ginia cities, coun­ties and towns, which are or­ga­nized into 17 solid waste plan­ning units, are re­quired by law to achieve and main­tain a min­i­mum re­cy­cling rate of 25 per­cent. Juris­dic­tions with less than 100 per­sons per square mile, such as Rap­pa­han­nock, are re­quired to achieve and main­tain a min­i­mum 15 per­cent re­cy­cling rate.

In other words, Rap­pa­han­nock was just .2 per­cent above the low­est al­low­able re­cy­cling rate, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. If at any time the rate falls be­low 15 per­cent, DEQ would re­quire a Re­cy­cling Ac­tion Plan be de­vel­oped and sub­mit­ted by the non-con­form­ing ju­ris­dic­tion.

The re­cy­cling rate av­er­ages are de­ter­mined in part by mea­sur­ing the amount of prin­ci­pal re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als col­lected, in­clud­ing pa­per, plas­tic, glass, alu­minum and steel cans, and com­par­ing the to­tal with the amount of solid waste de­liv­ered to san­i­tary land­fills or in­cin­er­a­tors for dis­posal. Other fac­tors are also put into the equa­tion.

All that said, the United States is cur­rently scram­bling to find dump­ing grounds for much of its re­cy­clables now that China, which has been the world’s top des­ti­na­tion for plas­tics, pa­per and other re­new­able ma­te­ri­als, an­nounced a ban on the im­ports. China has com­plained that haz­ardous ma­te­ri­als were mixed in with the waste that coun­tries were send­ing them to re­cy­cle.

In the mean­time, as the U.S. and other ex­porters search for new tak­ers, re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als are be­ing stored in grow­ing stock­piles, or else to the detri­ment of the en­vi­ron­ment in­cin­er­ated or dumped in land­fills with other garbage.

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