Record recycling rate reported for 2018

RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) - In 2018, Virginia hit a record-high 46 percent recycling rate for reporting localities.

This is according to a report from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, which was released this week.

According to a release, Virginia has set recycling rate targets for local governments at 25 percent and 15 percent for smaller localities since 1989.

Each year, local governments and regional planning organizations would calculate their information and submit a report to the DEQ, which reviews it and then calculates an overall recycling rate for the state.

The DEQ says the 2018 report includes information from 17 Solid Waste Planning Units that represent 117 cities, counties and towns with populations of more than 100,000 people.

The Annual Recycling Summary Report says Virginians from the 117 localities recycled 2.7 million tons of principle recycling materials, such as paper, metal, plastic, container glass, yard waste, waste wood, textiles, tires, used oil, used oil filters, used antifreeze, batteries and electronics.

The 2017 report said the recycling rate was about 42 percent, and the increase in 2018 was attributed to an increase in the amount of recycled paper, metal and yard waste.

However, the numbers will likely change due to changes in the market for recyclables in China, which now requires clean, “uncontaminated” materials.

“DEQ works with businesses, localities and environmental groups to mitigate ongoing changes to the waste stream that could impact recycling rates, including China's recycling market revisions,” said Leslie Beckwith, the director of DEQ's Financial Responsibility and Waste Programs. “Citizens are clearly very engaged in recycling and we continue to encourage everyone to purchase items that are recyclable.”

DEQ, which has been working with localities on recycling for almost two decades, says mandated rates have generally been met exceeded.