Issaquah businesses, government honored, ranked as top recyclers

July 12, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Reusing office supplies at City Hall, recycling at local schools and businesses’ efforts to cut waste landed Issaquah officials and entrepreneurs on King County’s Best Workplaces for Recycling and Waste Reduction list July 1.

The county Solid Waste Division recognized 89 organizations in the annual awards. In Issaquah, the honorees include established “green” organizations and a newcomer, Outsource Marketing.

Each organization boasts exceptional recycling programs and a commitment to reducing waste. Issaquah municipal government and the Issaquah School District made the list. So did Pogacha, Rowley Properties and Timber Ridge at Talus.

Issaquah City Hall offers supply closets of used folders, notepads, pens and envelopes for employees to reuse. The city also uses durable utensils and plates at department meetings and events.

What to know

Issaquah’s Best Workplaces for Recycling and Waste Reduction

The list of local honorees includes organizations recognized in past years and again for “green” efforts:

  • Education: Issaquah School District
  • Food/hospitality: Pogacha
  • Government: Issaquah municipal government
  • Professional services: Outsource Marketing, Rowley Properties
  • Other: Timber Ridge at Talus

The school district recycles batteries, bottles, cans, cellphones, electronic equipment, fluorescent tubes, paper and printer cartridges. Since implementing a composting program, the district has increased recycling by 3,872 cubic yards per year, increased food scrap recycling by 2,019 cubic yards per year and reduced garbage volumes by 4,301 cubic yards per year.

Outsource Marketing helped clients move some marketing communications into digital format. In order to further reduce paper waste, the company switched to online billing. The county also named Outsource Marketing to the Best Workplaces for Recycling and Waste Reduction Honor Roll, a list of 10 businesses highlighted for five years on the awards list.

Pogacha started recycling cooking oil a dozen years ago. The restaurant also recycles all food scraps and advises other eateries regarding the process.

Rowley Properties recycles copper, steel, brass, gypsum wallboard and lumber from construction sites, and emphasizes recycled and rapidly renewable materials in construction. The company’s accounting department switched to paperless billing and used emails and voicemails to replace mailings.

Residents at the Timber Ridge retirement community recycle batteries, fluorescent bulbs, scrap metal, Styrofoam and more. In addition, the community recycles all food scraps from kitchens and sends compostable waste to Cedar Grove Composting. For residents’ meals, Timber Ridge uses Eco-Ware, a compostable food container capable of being used up to 50 times before disposal.

“We’re elated to see such a wide variety of businesses on the list, each with their own custom programs for dealing with the types of waste they generate,” Karen May, Solid Waste Division program manager, said in a news release. “From food scraps to packaging, to printer cartridges, medical supplies and light bulbs, the companies on our list are employing innovative strategies and creating company cultures that encourage the prevention and recycling of waste.”

King County businesses sent more than 200,000 tons of recyclable materials to the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill last year. The largest percentage of material heading to the landfill from businesses — 27 percent — is food scraps and food-soiled paper.

(The landfill sprawls across 920 acres in unincorporated King County between Issaquah and Maple Valley.)

The honor is open to all businesses operating in King County outside of Seattle. Honorees had to meet the same basic criteria, as well as 10 additional waste reduction and recycling criteria, such as using reusable or compostable dishware in kitchens, collecting batteries for recycling or sending electronic invoices.

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