Public Works and Environmental Services

Fairfax County, Virginia



Our office is open 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

703-324-5033 | TTY 711

12000 Government Center Parkway
Suite 448 Fairfax, VA 22035

Randy Bartlett, Director

Public works and environmental services


The Department of Public Works and Environmental Services builds and maintains safe, reliable infrastructure that improves public health and provides a high quality of life for residents. The department’s four business areas – Solid Waste Management, Capital Facilities, Wastewater Management, and Stormwater Management – work together to create and preserve sustainable communities.

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News Stories

Big Blue crushes glass into sand and gravel

April 10, 2019
Big Blue crushes glass into sand and gravel for use in a variety of projects. Today, Fairfax County, City of Alexandria, Prince William County, and Arlington County announced a new strategic partnership to recover and recycle glass. In Northern Virginia, glass collected in curbside recycling bins is sent to recycling facilities where it eventually ends up in landfills. During the transportation process to the facility glass is broken and becomes mixed with recycling residue (small bits of plastic and paper) as part of the sorting process, making it unrecoverable. To tackle this challenge, these jurisdictions have committed to collecting glass via purple glass-only drop-off containers and bringing it to Fairfax County’s “Big Blue” processing plant, where it will be recycled for use in a variety of projects. “Fairfax County is proud of this partnership and is looking forward to continuing the growth of true glass recycling in Northern Virginia. By using the unique purple color we are hopeful that our residents will easily be able to identify glass recycling locations throughout NOVA.” John Kellas, deputy director of Public Works and Environmental Services. For partnering jurisdictions, all colors of emptied glass bottles and jars are acceptable materials for glass drop-off. Food residue from jars should be rinsed out before placing glass in the bins. Items that are not accepted include food, plastic bags, lamps or light bulbs, ceramics, porcelain, mirrors, windows, and glass sheets. Map of Glass Recycling Drop-off Sites Residents of the partnering jurisdictions who bring their glass recyclables to purple can locations can be sure their glass will be sent to the Big Blue plant for responsible recycling. In Fairfax County, residents and businesses are encouraged to bring glass to purple drop-off centers at the I-66 transfer station and I-95 landfill complex. The City of Alexandria has four glass recycling drop-off sites In the City of Alexandria, purple glass-only drop-off bins have been placed at the city’s four recycling drop-off centers, which are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The city continues to accept glass as part of its curbside collection. Arlington County delivers its first load of glass to Fairfax County’s glass processing plant.   “We are thrilled to be working with our neighbors in Fairfax County to find creative, innovative ways to improve recovery of glass,” said Alexandria City Manager Mark Jinks. “This effort shows the Northern Virginia region’s dedication to sustainability and its commitment to healthy, thriving communities.” Arlington County’s two recycling drop-off centers, located at Quincy Park and the Trades Center, now feature glass-only containers for residents and small business owners operating within the county. “We are excited for this opportunity to partner with our neighbors and find a regional solution to this issue that helps support our goal to build a sustainable community,” said Erik Grabowsky, Arlington County’s Solid Waste Bureau chief. Once glass is brought to Fairfax County’s processing plant at the I-95 landfill complex, machinery recovers any metal (such as bottle caps), crushes the glass, removes labels and other detritus, and then screens the product into various grades of sand and gravel. The plant is capable of crushing 20 tons of glass per hour and pulverizes glass bottles and jars into sand and gravel that can be used for paving, construction, and landscaping. The crushed glass can also be used in different drainage and stormwater control applications. Glass collected by the Purple Can Club is crushed into gravel-sized pieces. The Purple Can Club currently includes four jurisdictions: Fairfax County, Arlington County, Prince William County and the City of Alexandria. The Purple Can Club is committed to exemplary sustainable solid waste management practices and encouraging its residents to reduce, reuse, and recycle. For more information about recycling in Fairfax County, visit For more information about recycling in the City of Alexandria, visit For more information about recycling in Arlington County, visit For more information about recycling in Prince William County, visit For media inquiries, please contact: Fairfax County: Matthew Kaiser at or 703-324-8455 City of Alexandria: Sarah Godfrey at or 703-746-4027 Arlington County: Katie O’Brien at or 703-228-4952  

George mason Students Tour picture

April 4, 2019
At the request of George Mason University’s Environmental and Sustainability Studies program, a group of students were provided a classroom presentation and tour of Fairfax County’s I-95 landfill complex in Lorton. A tour group from George Mason University’s Environmental and Sustainability Studies program pose in front of “Big Blue,” Fairfax County’s glass crushing machine, on Friday, March 29, 2019, in Lorton, Va. Charlie Forbes, branch chief for Recycling, Compliance, and Planning, delivered an overview of solid waste management and recycling in Fairfax County, then led a tour of the landfill, highlighting key environmental controls and recent sustainability initiatives. The enthusiastic students had lots of questions about challenges they’d heard about in the news; problems with certain recyclables, such as glass; and the future of recycling. Forbes unraveled some popular misconceptions about the global recycling market and waste-to-energy. “Students and faculty were equally engaged, and the event ran well past scheduled time,” Forbes said. “I thought it was proper to let them get all their questions out.” Forbes said student questions covered the gamut, from landfill gas to the uses of the adjacent former prison. They were particularly enthusiastic about “Big Blue,” a machine that processes glass bottles and jars collected at recycling drop-off areas located throughout the region for use in construction projects. The students sounded motivated to bring their families’ glass to the drop-off centers. “The most surprising thing for me is that the students wanted to see refuse close up, so we made a stop in the primary receiving area, where incoming vehicles discharge their waste,” Forbes said. “The students were amazed at the variety of wastes being delivered to the site, from old kitchen appliances, to TV’s and computers, to hazardous waste, to tree maintenance trimmings. They were particularly struck by the volume of lumber off-cuts and pallets that were arriving as municipal solid waste.” The students left with a much better understanding about what happens to trash and recycling once it leaves their curb. Tours like this help improve collection and disposal by educating the main participants – residents who generate waste. The Department of Public Works and Environmental Services coordinates tours of key infrastructure for several of George Mason academic programs, and works closely with the university’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. The Solid Waste Management Program also works in concert with George Mason’s facilities management, a waste collection and recycling services customer.

national champion green ash tree

April 1, 2019
The former national champion green ash tree, "Arthur" which was protected with insecticide treatments. While the trees are waking up from dormancy in the spring, the tiny emerald ash borer (EAB) beetles are beginning to emerge, primed to create a new generation of tree-killers. Spring is the perfect time, right after the trees have leafed out, to protect any ash trees that are of value while the beetles are out and flying. There are several options available to help protect the remaining ash trees from emerald ash borer. Pesticides are recommended for individual yard or street trees which still have 30 to 50 percent of their canopy intact. Trees that are dead or dying will not respond to treatment of any kind. Depending on the pesticide, it may need to be applied every year, up to every three years. Whatever pesticide is used, always follow the label directions. The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDoF) has recently adopted an EAB cost share program. Interested parties may apply for up to 50 percent assistance for pesticide injection treatment costs (up to a certain amount). Please use the form to apply for assistance. More information about pesticide treatment or other management options for residents can be found at this Slideshare presentation. For additional information or to schedule a presentation to your civic group, please contact the Urban Forest Management Division at 703-324-1770 TTY 711 or

Featured Video

Glass bottles and jars received at our two recycling drop-off areas (I-66 transfer station in Fairfax and I-95 landfill complex in Lorton) will be crushed and used in construction projects. More information at Recycling and Trash Glass

Capital Projects Summary Report

Quarterly status reports for each supervisory district