Washington recycling rate increases to highest level yet

December 14, 2011

NEW — 11 a.m. Dec. 14, 2011

Washington’s recycling rate increased to the highest level ever on record last year, reaching 49 percent.

The information comes from a report released Wednesday from the state Department of Ecology. Officials said Washington residents recycled more and tossed less in the trash.

The total amount of municipal waste recycled by state residents increased by more than 540,000 tons last year — up 14 percent from 2009. The total amount of waste disposed from households and businesses decreased through the recession.

The trend continued in 2010 as disposal dropped by about 65,000 tons, or 1 percent.

“Reducing and recycling waste have economic, environmental and public health benefits for our state’s residents,” Laurie Davies, Waste 2 Resources Program manager for the Department of Ecology, said in a statement. “It protects our water, reduces our exposure to toxic chemicals which lowers health risks, and can build a clean, ‘green’ economy for Washington’s future.”

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Decluttering offers chance to reuse, recycle

December 13, 2011

Habitat for Humanity Store volunteer Cindy Clark (left) and merchandising supervisor Molly Jacobson work in the Bellevue showroom, moving and assembling previously owned furniture donated to sell. By Greg Farrar

The items relegated to closets, crawlspaces, garages and junk drawers need not be banished to the landfill during a home decluttering effort.

Local recycling and reuse experts said the trick is to find fresh uses for old and unnecessary items, either through donations or repairs. Items in good condition make ideal candidates for donations to thrift stores. King County and local businesses offer recycling services for many household goods and items in not-so-good shape.

King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson said options abound for unloading the items cluttering the nooks and crannies in a home.

“Always consider donation, because reuse is better than recycling,” Watson said. “Someone else can use it — family, friends,” online classified services and thrift stores.

Watson adds another R to the time-tested mantra to reduce, reuse and recycle — repair. Often, furniture and other household items in otherwise good condition can be repaired for less expense and hassle than replacement. Old furniture, for instance, is a candidate for reupholstering.

Arie Mahler, donations manager for Seattle Goodwill, said sending items to a thrift store is a solid choice to reduce clutter — and aid a local nonprofit organization in the process, too.

“We’re pretty forgiving when it comes to donations,” he said.

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Garbage hauler debuts recycling series

December 13, 2011

Waste Management is offering a series of online public service announcements to encourage residents to recycle food scraps and other materials.

The series — available at www.youtube.com/wastemanagement — features Waste Management Joe, a Waste Management driver moonlighting as a psychiatrist and offering recycling advice to customers.

The videos feature a quirky cast of characters and a few surprises to help drive home the recycling message.

The series’ goal is to encourage people to recycle food scraps, glass and other materials otherwise taking up space in the county-run Cedar Hills Regional Landfill near Issaquah.

Waste Management serves Issaquah neighborhoods other than Greenwood Point and South Cove.

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AT&T proposes adding equipment on cell tower

December 6, 2011

King County is considering proposals from AT&T to modify antennae and equipment for the existing cell tower near the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill.

The county also approved AT&T’s plan to add antennae and equipment to the existing cell tower at 10200 Renton-Issaquah Road S.E., about a mile northeast from the Southeast May Valley Road intersection.

AT&T applied to the King County Department of Development and Environmental Services to replace three antennae, six remote radio heads and a surge protector for the cabinet on the landfill tower.

The agency is in the process of determining potential environmental impacts of the landfill project. Residents can send comments about the environmental impacts to DDES — Building and Fire Services Division, 900 Oakesdale Ave. S.W., Renton, WA 98057-5212. The public comment period ends Dec. 19.

Residents can also review the applications and any environmental studies at the Renton office.

Planners OK’d the request from AT&T to add two antennae, six remote radio heads, three lines of cable and a surge protector to the tower at 10200 Renton-Issaquah Road S.E.

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Food scraps return as compost to fuel community garden

November 29, 2011

King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson (left) adds compost to a garden plot Nov. 16. Contributed

Turning trash to treasure — or, at least, rich compost — could lengthen the landfill’s lifespan.

King County Solid Waste Division officials said the average King County family tosses 45 pounds of food scraps each month. The agency estimates food recycling could divert the amount of garbage headed to the county-run Cedar Hills Regional Landfill by more than 20 percent.

So, the Solid Waste Division enlisted 10 families in the Sycamore neighborhood near downtown Issaquah to collect food scraps throughout August — and demonstrate the ease of food-scrap recycling. Overall, neighbors amassed more than 400 pounds from refuse otherwise headed for the landfill — chicken bones, pineapple tops, paper towels soaked in bacon grease and much more.

The garbage pile festering beneath the hot August sun in Donna Misner’s driveway re-emerged Nov. 16 as rich compost.

King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson joined the residents in late August to bid the garbage heap farewell on a journey to Cedar Grove Composting.

Then, 85 days and a decomposition cycle later, Misner and other Sycamore neighbors gathered on a rain-soaked morning to see the result.

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City could choose CleanScapes for garbage contract, dump Waste Management

October 18, 2011

Officials seek hauler to serve most Issaquah neighborhoods

CleanScapes nudged out larger competitors and emerged as the No. 1 contender to haul Issaquah garbage due, in part, to offering curbside pickup for difficult-to-recycle items, such as batteries and light bulbs.

The city is seeking a garbage hauler to serve most Issaquah neighborhoods. Waste Management is the predominant hauler in the city, but the current contract between Issaquah and the Houston-based company expires in June.

Seattle-based CleanScapes came out as the top candidate after city officials evaluated offers from both companies and another collector, Allied Waste — a local name for national company Republic Services.

City officials said a $3.8-million-per-year CleanScapes contract could mean lower rates for Issaquah customers, plus increased customer service and recycling options. The contract requires City Council approval.

If the CleanScapes contract is approved, a residential customer putting a 32-gallon cart out for weekly curbside pickup could see rates decrease from $13.43 to $12.74 — a 5.1 percent drop.

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King County to answer landfill questions at Issaquah meeting

October 18, 2011

Residents from areas near the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill can offer feedback and receive updates at a public meeting soon.

The agency responsible for the landfill, the King County Solid Waste Division, is hosting a community meeting from 7-9 p.m. Oct. 25 at the King County Library Service Center, 960 Newport Way N.W.

Meeting attendees can learn about landfill operations, plus construction and environmental projects at the 920-acre facility. Officials also plan to discuss the Bio Energy Washington landfill-gas-to-energy facility at the landfill site.

The facility prompted noise complaints from nearby residents last year.

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King County Council increases rate for garbage pickup

September 12, 2011

NEW — 8 p.m. Sept. 12, 2011

The cost for garbage pickup in Issaquah and elsewhere in King County is due to increase by about 80 cents per month next year.

King County Council members approved the rate increase Monday as part of a long-term effort to upgrade the solid waste system.

Under the updated system, the basic rate for commercial vehicles, such as garbage trucks, is $109 per ton. The current rate is $95 per ton.

The average customer putting out a single can for pickup should pay about 80 cents more per month next year.

For people hauling loads to county transfer stations, the rate is due to increase to $17.49 per load from $15.31 per load.

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Neighborhood turns trash, food scraps, to treasure, rich compost

August 30, 2011

Residents donate 400 pounds of garbage for composting effort

The half-gnawed corncobs, shorn pineapple tops, slimy banana peels and grease-stained pizza boxes simmered in the midday sun — a concoction assembled from the kitchen castoffs of 10 Issaquah families.

Residents of the Sycamore neighborhood near downtown Issaquah dump a last load of food scraps into more than 400 pounds of collected food waste. Contributed

The festering pile in Donna Misner’s driveway Aug. 24 included more than 400 pounds collected from residents in the Sycamore neighborhood near downtown Issaquah.

King County joined the residents to increase food-scrap recycling for a month to accomplish dual goals: demonstrate the ease of food-scrap recycling and turn the garbage into rich compost for a community garden.

“I don’t consider this waste. People always joke, ‘Oh, it’s garbage and it’s stinky. This is a material. This is a resource — that’s what this is right here,” King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson said during a midday event in the Sycamore driveway. “It may smell a little bit on a hot day, but when you do it at home, it’s not going to smell. When Cedar Grove makes it into compost, the final product is a product that’s going to help your garden grow. It’s a resource.”

Cedar Grove Composting plans to transform the refuse into compost and then donate the results to the Issaquah Flatland Community Garden near the AtWork! Recycling Center by late fall. Gardeners send 25 percent of the organic bounty to the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank.

“The garden is a nice focal point for the Issaquah community,” AtWork! Community Development Manager Dennis Wadja said. “Neighbors walk to the garden, children are exposed to growing food, the food bank receives nutritious organic food and space is available for the disabled population. We see this recycling project as an opportunity to connect deeper to the wider community.”

(Cedar Grove Composting is near the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in unincorporated King County between Issaquah and Maple Valley.)

Officials and teams from the King County Solid Waste Division and Cedar Grove Composting — including a county staffer dressed as a banana — gathered at the Misner home along Issaquah Creek as Tiger Mountain basked in the sunshine beyond.

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Tour Cedar Hills landfill, destination for King County garbage

August 30, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. Aug. 30, 2011

See the destination for most King County garbage up close.

The county is opening the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill between Issaquah and Maple Valley for free tours Sept. 10. Cedar Hills, the last operating landfill in the county, encompasses 920 acres and accepts about 800,000 tons of garbage each year from across King County, excluding Seattle and Milton.

The tour is designed for adults. Call 206-296-4490 to organize tours for school-aged children and school groups.

The tour starts at 9 a.m. and lasts about one hour. The tour requires reservations. Reserve a spot by Sept. 6 by calling 206-296-4490, TTY Relay: 711.

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