Got Junk? Fairfax County Will Convert It to Energy

Got Junk? Fairfax County Will Convert It to Energy
Trash on sidewalk in D.C.

Trash on sidewalk in D.C.

Curious about what happens to those bulky items you pay to have hauled away?

If you live in Fairfax County, Virginia, chances are much of it is converted into energy. That’s because the county incinerates most of the trash that hauling companies bring to its Lorton facility.

“It’s amazing that the stuff I take can be used for energy," says Carlos Parraga of the highly rated Fair N Fast Junk Removal in Falls Church, Virginia.

Parraga separates metal and reusable items from the rest of what he picks up from customers. He takes the metal to be recycled, and donates what is still in good condition to Goodwill. Everything else is taken to a facility in Lorton, Virginia, where the energy conversion occurs. “It’s a great idea,” Parraga says.

Fairfax County officials seem to agree, saying by using waste-to-energy conversion, the volume of trash is reduced by 90 percent.

The trash — as much as 20 tons a day — arrives at the facility, where it's deposited into a pit and burned. The heat turns water into steam, which then turns a turbine to generate electricity.

From real estate to junk hauling

Parraga, who uses the facility as much as possible, came to the hauling business in 2007 after working as a real estate agent during Washington's housing market boom. “It was a crazy time back then,” he said. “All you had to do was list something and it sold.”

When the D.C. real estate market took a nosedive, Parraga realized there was an opportunity for haulers because so many people were moving out of their homes and trying to dispose of junk and garbage. “I bought a truck, and I was in business,” he says.

Bedding and upholstered furniture are the most common items he's asked to haul away because many municipal services won't touch them. “No job is too big or too small for me,” he says.

RELATED: Weird junk: check out these 5 odd hauling jobs

He also gets a lot of inquiries about same-day junk pick up, which he tries to accommodate. “Some people just leave these big items out for the trash,” he says. “When they don’t get picked up, and the neighbors start to complain, is when I get a call.”

Hauling costs

Fair N Fast hauling prices start at $95 and increase depending on how much space an item takes up on the truck.

There's also additional charges for heavier items. “Bathroom tiles may not take up much space, but they are heavy,” he says.

Then there’s rolled up, wet carpet.  “You can’t imagine how heavy that can be,” he adds.

Even with the recent recovery in the local housing market, Parraga is content to stay just where he is with Fair N Fast, especially knowing much of what he hauls away in Fairfax County is being converted into an energy source.

“I don’t plan to go back into real estate,” he says.

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