Washington DC Recycling Study

Thx much to Amy Senger for snagging this shaggy bit

Good news. Washington DC you are recycling newspaper, cardboard, and bottles at higher than the national rate.

Bad news. Washington DC you only recycle 18% of your trash when 36% of your trash is recyclable. This is costing the district an extra $250k and unduly burdening the environment.

2008 Residential Waste Report

Those were the findings of the latest Recycling report from the Department of Public Works for DC. The report (linked below) closely examined the trash stream to get some hard numbers. This included examining collections of trash in all 8 wards in DC.

The most striking number in the report and its conclusion was that 1 in 5 items thrown out could have been recycled (22%). The straight costs of trash are $60/ton for trash and $25/ton for recycling. If each resident were to recycle a little bit more then perhaps we could get closer to our potential 36% recycling rate mentioned above.

2008 Residential Waste Sort Report (pdf)

What You can Throw in the Blue Bin

Here is a list of items you can recycle pulled from the DPW recycling site:

  • Aerosol cans
  • Aluminum foil and aluminum pie pans
  • Aluminum food and beverage containers
  • Books (including paperbacks, textbooks, and hardbacks)
  • Brown paper bags (Kraft)
  • Cardboard and paperboard boxes (including cereal boxes without liners)
  • Computer printouts
  • Corrugated cardboard boxes
  • Ferrous and bimetal food and beverage containers
  • Glass containers such as jars and bottles
  • Junk mail
  • Magazines and catalogs
  • Milk and juice cartons
  • Narrow-neck plastic containers (other than for motor oil) that carry plastic resin identification codes 1 through 7
  • Newspapers (including all inserts)
  • Non-metallic wrapping paper
  • Office paper (including typing, fax, copy, letterhead, and NCR) and envelopes
  • Plastic bags, e.g., grocery bags, newspaper bags, and shopping bags. Please put your plastic bags into one plastic bag then place it in your recycling container. We will accept more than one bag of plastic bags.
  • Rigid plastics including plastic milk/soda crates, plastic buckets with metal handles, plastic laundry baskets, plastic lawn furniture, plastic totes, plastic drums, plastic coolers, plastic flower pots, plastic drinking cups/glasses, plastic 5-gallon water bottles, plastic pallets, plastic toys, and empty plastic garbage/recycling bins
  • Telephone books
  • Wide-mouth containers such as peanut butter, margarine/butter tubs, yogurt, cottage, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, mayonnaise, whipped topping, and prescription (remove the identification label) and over-the-counter medicine bottles. (note that the lids and caps do not need to be removed.) Please do not include Styrofoam meat trays, lunch “clamshells” or foam packaging, such as “peanuts.”

Commercial Recycling

Whoa, you made it this far…thx for being our best readers.

Did you know that fully 70% of the waste produced in Washington DC comes from commercial business?

I didn’t either. The district throws out 800,000 tons of trash and business are the largest wasters. Thankfully the District passed a law in 1988 requiring all business to do some recycling.

Unfortunately, the rest is up to business people. The business is required to have cans on-site and required to put only correct items in those cans. With fines for not doing so…but will people actually do so?

They should. Each business has to pay directly for trash pick-up (so do HOA’s) and recycling costs less than normal trash. It is economical and fulfilling to do so. All the reasons are there…

I could not find any reports examining the actual recycling rate in commercial locations, just this helpful recycling guide:

Commercial Recycling Guide (pdf)

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