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Alexandria Mayor proposes trash collection fee increase for new pilot program

The trash situation is changing in Alexandria, as City leaders are ironing out a new curbside food waste collection pilot.

Mayor Justin Wilson’s proposal for the one-year pilot would see annual residential and commercial refuse collection fees increase from $484 to $500 citywide, or $1.33 a month.

“We’ll see how the pilot goes,” Wilson told ALXnow. “Falls Church uses a vendor and they actually have the vendor charge residents directly who want the collection. It may end up we go with that model instead of providing universal collection. We’ll see how much support there is for this.”

A $315,000 allocation would fund the new curbside food waste collection pilot program, as well as expand the city’s food waste drop-off composting program in spots designated by City Manager Jim Parajon.

If approved by Council as an addition in Parajon’s fiscal year 2023 budget, 600 residents over six months (potentially up to 2,500 over the full year) would be delivered a 5-gallon bucket to fill up with food waste. The trash would be picked up for composting on a designated collection day.

The City anticipates that the pilot program could begin no later than late fall.

Alexandria communications officer Andrea Blackford said that evaluating the feasibility of curbside organics supports the City’s WasteSmart Strategic Plan and Environmental Action Plan.

“Food waste such as fruit and vegetable scraps; expired bread, pasta, rice, grains and cereal; and egg shells and coffee grounds would be collected and processed into nutrient-rich compost, a natural soil amendment,” Blackford said. “This pilot aims to evaluate expansion of composting options in the City.”

City residents currently get weekly yard waste collections that are composted or turned into mulch, in addition to four free food waste composting stations at farmers’ markets on weekends.

If approved, residents should expect to be be notified of the pilot on the City website, social media and eNews.

“Sign up for the pilot program will be first-come, first-served, based on expressions of interest collected through a simple electronic survey,” Blackford said. “In this pilot, we will consider prioritization for customers who may have transportation/access and accessibility/disability barriers to participating in the existing food waste drop-off program at farmers’ markets.”

Wilson said the program reduces trash volume, and that City is exploring new locations for food waste collection spots in Old Town North and the West End.

“Dong so is not only great for the environment, it reduces our trash volume by diverting food waste from our regular trash collection,” he said.

The budget will be adopted on May 4.

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