Proper disposal of trash and recycling is key to a clean, safe, and pleasant neighborhood. That almost goes without saying.
But in Washington, DC, things can be complicated. Even longtime residents get confused about trash and recycling. So let’s take a few minutes to review the rules and regulations governing solid waste collection in the District – at least as they apply in Foggy Bottom.
The District collects trash from houses and small multi-family buildings (four or fewer units) twice each week, usually on Tuesday and Friday mornings. (Residents of larger multi-family or commercial buildings should contact their buildings for trash collection requirements and schedules.) Trash should be placed in sturdy cans – with secure lids — at the curb between 6:30 pm the night before collection, and 6:00 am that morning. It is important to place trash in cans because of the many rats with which we share our neighborhood; given half a chance, a rat will chew through even a heavy-duty trash bag to reach the goodies inside.
The DC Department of Public Works will bring you a 32-gallon trash can for $45. Make a check payable to the DC Treasurer, and send it to 2750 South Capitol Street, SE, Washington, DC 20032. You may also provide your own trash can. Be sure to put your address on the can and the lid to ensure your can comes back to your address.
The District offers “single stream” recycling, which means that all of your recyclable items can be placed in one can. DC collects and recycles most paper, plastic, cans, and glass. DC does not recycle Styrofoam, “clamshell” packaging used for food, metallic papers, peanuts (foam packaging), or pizza boxes.
Recycling is collected in Foggy Bottom on Friday mornings. Place your recyclable items in the proper container and place them at the curb between 6:30 pm the night before collection, and 6:00 am that morning.
DC DPW provides 32-gallon recycling containers for $45. Make a check payable to the DC Treasurer, and send it to 2750 South Capitol Street, SE, Washington, DC 20032. You can also provide your own recycling container; just be sure it is blue to avoid confusion with trash containers.
Back in the day, DC was famous for, among other things, a dance called the Electric Slide. We’re not talking about the dance here. We’re referring to what happens to the trash and recycling collection schedules when there is a District holiday.
When a District holiday occurs, all trash and recycling collection “slides” one day for the rest of that week. In Foggy Bottom, that means trash collection will “slide” to Wednesday and Saturday mornings, and recycling collection will “slide” to Saturday.
Say you have a really big item you’d like to discard. Please do not put it out with your regular trash. DPW’s trucks are scheduled in such a way that they fill up on their regular routes, leaving no room for unexpected large items. The District will collect large items, however, if you schedule them in advance.
To schedule a bulk trash pickup, call 311 (from a phone with a 202 area code) or visit 311.dc.gov and follow the instructions. The evening before your scheduled pickup, place the items on the curb where you place your regular trash. Acceptable items for bulk trash collection include air conditioners (drain water and fluids), hot water heaters, household furniture, large toys (kiddie pools, playhouses, disassembled swing sets), major appliances, e.g., refrigerators (doors removed), mattresses and box springs (MUST be wrapped in plastic), bed frames, and rugs (MUST be rolled and tied).
Hazardous waste includes the following: acids; aerosols; antifreeze; asbestos tile; batteries; cleaning chemicals; drain openers; fluorescent light bulbs; furniture stripper; stains; varnish; fertilizer; lighter fluid; mercury thermometers and mercury-containing devices; moth balls; motor oil; paint; pesticides and poisons; roofing tar; solvents and thinners; transmission fluids; windshield wiper and brake fluids; and wood preservatives.
Please do not place hazardous waste at the curb. You will need to take hazardous waste to the Fort Totten Transfer Station the first Saturday of the month between 8:00 am and 3:00 pm, except holidays. An additional household hazardous waste drop-off occurs the Thursday preceding the first Saturday of the month (except holidays), between 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm. The Fort Totten Transfer Station is located at 4900 John F. McCormack Drive, NE.
If you have questions, please reach out to the DC Department of Public Works. Call them Monday through Friday between 8:15 am and 4:45 pm at (202) 673‑6833 or visit dpw.dc.gov