The statewide recycling rate in 2018 was 46% — up 3 percentage points from the previous year, according to data released this week by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The data showed that:
- The Central Virginia Waste Management Authority, which includes Richmond and surrounding localities, had the highest recycling rate in the commonwealth — 59%.
- The Virginia Peninsulas Public Service Authority, which includes Hampton, Poquoson and Williamsburg and nearby counties, had the lowest rate — 29%.
- The city of Newport News had the biggest improvement in recycling in recent years. Its rate jumped from 38% in 2016 to 57% last year.
“DEQ works with businesses and localities and environmental groups to promote environmental awareness through recycling,” said Leslie Beckwith, the agency’s director of financial responsibility and waste management programs.
The statewide recycling rate was 44% in 2015. It dropped to 43% in 2016 and 2017 before jumping to 46% last year. The increase came despite an unstable market for various types of trash to be recycled — especially China’s decision to stop accepting solid waste. “China’s revisions in recycling material acceptance is having a big impact on the recycling market,” Beckwith said.
As a result, DEQ has asked localities and planning units to identify any changes or challenges regarding their recycling efforts when they submit their 2019 reports. One change is that many localities have dropped recycling glass because it is hard to find a market for that product. That is why DEQ is asking Virginians to minimize their use of glass. “Citizens should try to generate less waste, like purchasing products with the least amount of packaging and those that are readily recyclable, such as aluminum cans vs. glass bottles,” said Anissa Rafeh, the department’s communications coordinator.