April 20, 2011
Innovative, ambitious ‘green’ programs earn their keep in Issaquah
Just a few years ago, many people considered sustainability a fad. The prediction was that cities passionate about recycling and green living would abandon sustainability when hard-pressed to stretch city dollars and services.
That didn’t happen. In fact, communities like Issaquah stand tall on Earth Day because of innovative and ambitious sustainability programs that are actually reducing costs. Here’s how:
Waste reduction for Issaquah businesses: The city of Issaquah and Waste Management are partners in innovative outreach to boost commercial recycling. As a result, Issaquah has sent less and less garbage to the landfill every year since 2005.
The city’s new food packaging ordinance is a prime example of an aggressive effort that’s paying off. It requires restaurants and food service-related businesses to compost and to use “to-go” packaging that is either recyclable or compostable. Since October, 90 local businesses have signed up for food waste collection, diverting 600 tons of food waste from the landfill. That’s roughly 60 Waste Management trucks full of food waste.
Free waste audits are also proving helpful for Issaquah businesses. The audit process brings in Waste Management recycling experts to take a holistic look at how to reduce waste, streamline operations and reduce costs.
Food scrap collection for homeowners and multifamily communities: Tossing food scraps in the yard waste cart is simple and yet important because it turns a waste stream into a value stream. What was once garbage becomes compost for healthy gardens, reducing waste and even lowering some garbage bills.
Innovative curbside recycling programs: Issaquah has also implemented other important recycling services for residential areas. From single stream recycling to electronics recycling and CFL collection, these programs are helping Issaquah reduce its carbon footprint.
Cleaner air: The cost savings and quality of life that come with clean air are important to Issaquah. That’s why it matters to this community and clean air advocates that Waste Management has earned Evergreen Fleets certification for improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Evergreen Fleets is a program of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the Puget Sound Clean Cities Coalition. Certification recognizes innovative fleet management practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve fleet efficiency.
So Earth Day 2011 is cause for celebration in Issaquah: Local leaders, businesses and citizens have staked out a leadership role in implementing world-class sustainability programs that are actually helping the bottom line. They’ve shown that sustainability is not a fad, that it’s good for the community and that it doesn’t have to break the bank.
Emily Newcomer is Waste Management’s recycling educator. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.