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Vienna councilman raises concerns about trash, recycling due to shipping

Collection truck (via Fairfax County)

Same-day deliveries have become increasingly popular, thanks to companies like Amazon and Uber Eats, but that convenience could come at a cost for local governments.

The Town of Vienna’s sanitation division operating budget — which includes collection workers, landfill fees for waste and recycling, and other costs — has remained around the same in recent fiscal years: $1.850 million in 2019, $1.925 million in 2020, and $1.871 million in 2021.

However, Vienna Town Council representative Steve Potter told the Virginia Mercury last month that the uptick in shipping has meant additional costs for governments due to the amount of nonrecyclable packaging as well as the need for personnel and facilities to recycle cardboard boxes and other materials.

Del. Mark Keam, whose district includes the Town of Vienna, and other state legislators tried to intervene with bills that would have required businesses to pay an environmental fee based on packaging, but the proposals failed to go forward in a House subcommittee.

Potter didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.

Fairfax County’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services shared a similar sentiment.

“It is intuitive that the increase in home delivery services over the past few years has had an impact on waste generation and composition,” department spokesperson Sharon North said in a statement.

Even if people want to recycle, there are still setbacks. Most of the plastic packaging in which customers get items isn’t recyclable in the region, according to Fairfax County.

While the pandemic shifted people away from workspaces, reducing commercial use, future annual reports from the state could provide a clearer look at the trash and recycling habits of residents and businesses.

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