FAQs: Trash and Recycling Service for Businesses

How do I set up trash and recycling service for my business?

That depends on who owns your building as well as the terms of any leases or property management contracts.  Start by talking to the building owner or property manager.   

Trash:  Option 1:  A business can contract with a permitted collection company to collect and dispose of their trash.  Option 2:  A business can self-haul their trash to a county disposal site.  This will require that the business obtain classification as a Commercial Cash Customer or a Permitted Disposal Company.  Detailed requirements can be found on our Business Categories page.

Recyclables:  Responsibility for establishing an adequate recycling system rests with whatever party writes the contract for trash service – this could be the building owner, the property manager, or the tenant occupant.  Businesses can also self-haul recyclables to any county drop-off center for free. 

If you need assistance in setting up trash or recycling at a business property (including a multi-residential complex), please contact the Solid Waste Management Program at 703-324-5230, TTY 711.  We offer onsite evaluation, system analysis, and educational/outreach support. 

What are the rules for commercial trash and recycling collection?

Complete regulations for the collection and management of trash and recyclables are detailed in Chapter 109.1 of the Code of the County of Fairfax, VA. Following are some of the basic rules concerning commercial collection service: 

  • Your business can contract with any company that has a certificate to operate from Fairfax County to collect trash or recyclables.  Collection companies without a certificate to operate are in violation of the law. 
  • All trash and recyclables must be removed from the premises at least once weekly. 
  • Your business may not set out trash for collection in a bag.  All commercial trash must be stored in a sturdy, leak- and rodent-proof container. 
  • Trash may not be collected in an open top container.  This includes roll-off boxes and construction/debris dumpsters.
  • Trash and recyclables may not be collected together in the same container.  So-called “one box” service where trash and recyclables are collected in a single dumpster, compactor, or other container to be sorted at another site is illegal. 
  • Any dumpster within 150 feet of a residence may not be serviced between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. 

For more information about these rules, please consult Chapter 109.1 or call 703-324-5230, TTY 711.

To report a violation or concern to Fairfax County about your service provider, please use the Solid Waste Complaint/Comment Form or call us at 703-324-5230, TTY 711 during office hours (8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday).   If possible, please have descriptive information about the truck such as color, truck number, license plate number, etc.  This will assist us in investigating your complaint. 

What are the recycling requirements for nonresidential properties in the county?


  • All nonresidential properties (businesses, schools, hospitals, etc.) must recycle mixed paper and cardboard (newspaper, corrugated boxes, cereal boxes, magazines, office paper, colored paper, junk mail, telephone books, paper grocery bags).
  • Owners or property managers must provide annual notification to tenants about their recycling system.
  • Nonresidential properties must have a recycling plan.
  • Certain nonresidential properties must recycle materials in addition to their principal recyclable material.
  • An annual recycling report is required from certain properties or generators.
  • Cardboard recycling is required at construction and demolition sites.

For more information, see nonresidential recycling and trash as well as section 4 of the Recycling Program Requirements Guide. Also, be sure to check out our information for employees, business tenants and property owners and managers.

RESIDENTIAL BUSINESS PROPERTIES (including apartment or condominium complexes and home-based businesses) must follow the county's minimum residential requirements

What is a principal recyclable material?

A principal recyclable material is the one that occurs in the largest quantity (by weight)  in a property's waste stream.  It typically varies by business type.  For example, in an office building, the principal recyclable is usually mixed paper.  For retail stores, warehouses or food service operations, it tends to be corrugated cardboard and/or mixed paper; for auto repair and maintenance, it may be scrap metal or used oil.  Additional details can be found in Section 4 of the Recycling Program Requirements Guide under "Certain nonresidential properties must recycle additional materials."

If you are unsure of the correct principal recyclable material for your building or complex, you should analyze the waste stream. This can be as simple as taking a visual survey of your trash, or can be as involved as sorting, weighing and measuring the volume of all the materials in your waste stream.  (NOTE:  If you own several small businesses, calculate the principal recyclable separately unless the businesses are located alongside one another such as in a shopping center.)   For additional assistance, please contact the Solid Waste Management Program at 703-324-5230, TTY 711.

Who should calculate the principal recyclable material for adjoining properties or jointly leased spaces?

If you lease a business space that is part of a shopping center, your property owner is responsible for identifying the principal recyclable for the entire property and for implementing the necessary procedure for collecting mixed paper, cardboard, and the additional principal recyclable material.

If you own a business space that is part of a conjoined building, you are responsible for establishing a recycling procedure for your own business to collect mixed paper and cardboard; and, if applicable, for identifying and recycling an additional principal recyclable material. 

How do I recycle special materials such as batteries, fluorescent lamps and computers?

Visit the following pages to learn more:

More Questions?

Please contact the Solid Waste Management Program at 703-324-5230, TTY 711.

See also:

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