DEQ releases solid waste report

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has released its solid waste report for 2015.

The report documents all solid waste (municipal solid waste- commercial and residential garbage- construction and demolition debris, yard waste, etc.) that was either produced by the state and retained in landfills or incinerated, or waste that came from elsewhere into Virginia’s landfills.

Overall, the state saw its solid waste reception increase roughly 500,000 tons from 2014. The total amount of solid waste being handled in some fashion by Virginia’s landfills was 20.7 million tons. Of that, 5.4 million tons come from outside the commonwealth, a number that grew about 100,000 tons in 2015.

The increase is nothing out of the ordinary, said DEQ spokesman Bill Hayden.

“If you look over the past few years, the rate has been pretty stable,” he said. “That 500,000 number is not considered a huge change. It could just mean a change in some region that may have been exporting or importing trash to the state. It’s not really considered a huge change from the previous year.”

Also included in the DEQ’s report were the projected lifespans at the current rate of growth for all landfills in the commonwealth. Shenandoah County’s landfill’s life expectancy is nearly 33 years at current rates. Battle Creek Landfill in Luray’s expectancy is 76 years. Hayden said the projected longevity of these landfills is the result of quality management and foresight.

“It’s indicative of planning on the locality’s part,” he said. “When a locality is getting prepared for a landfill, in the early stages, they have to anticipate how much (waste) they’ll be bringing in and how long the landfill will be operating. The ones that are doing well have been planned better.”

The projected lifespans of Battle Creek and Shenandoah County landfills compare well to other regional landfills. For instance, the Rockingham County Landfill’s lifespan, according to the report is 4.1 years.

In addition to solid waste that was deposited into landfills or incinerated to produce energy, roughly 2.1 million tons were sent to recovery facilities to be mulched, recycled onsite, recycled offsite or treated, stored and disposed.

Of that 2.1 million, roughly 255,000 tons were recycled onsite and around 25,000 tons were mulched. Just over 1.2 million tons was treated, stored or disposed.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com