Plan would expand King County’s only landfill one last* time — UPDATE

King County needs more time to sort out a new era solution for getting rid of its copious mountains of trash — burning the garbage in a waste-to-energy like they do in densely populated areas of Europe, Japan, and.. checks notes… Spokane seems like a probable future.

But in the meantime, there is a plan to create a new addition to the county’s Cedar Hills Regional Landfill that officials say will give the giant garbage collecting facility — and the county’s only landfill –another 21 years of life. The King County Council will vote on the plan Monday.

UPDATE: The council announced Monday morning that the vote has been pushed back so officials have more time to consider newly proposed amendments to the legislation.

Continue reading

With solution to ‘aspirational recycling,’ Ridwell growing to pick up what Amazon leaves behind

Ridwell’s Justin Gough (Image: Ridwell)

It’s one of those perfect spring afternoons. The sun rays glitter on the water of Lake Washington. Ryan Metzger swiftly opens up his car door, walks up to the porch of a grand Leschi house and immediately reaches for the trash.

To clarify: it’s very clean trash meant for recycling; and the people who stuffed it all in cloth bags in the white bin on the porch knew Metzger, CEO of the local recycling startup Ridwell, would be there to pick it up. They pay for Ridwell’s subscription service (which starts at $10 a month) for pick-ups of used light bulbs, batteries, clothes, plastics and other materials that shouldn’t go in the garbage or are better off recycled and reused.

Metzger fishes one small bag out of the bin filled with a couple of batteries. Another is stuffed with old clothes, and a third one brims with what fits in the ‘plastic film’ category of scrunchable plastics, including ziplock bags and dry cleaner bags.

“It’s a lot of Amazon packaging,” Metzger says, while he opens the bag to check its contents. “Bubble-wrap-envelopes and stuff, which doesn’t fit in regular recycling.” Continue reading

‘Where does it go?’ — No big changes for Seattle recycling… yet

Inside a Seattle sorting facility (Image: CHS)

The short version: After a study, there will be no immediate changes to Seattle’s curbside recycling program — even though your “aspirational recycling” efforts are gumming up the system.

The long version is more detailed.

Seattle and King County are loving recycling to death. People are so excited about putting items in the blue bin instead of the black one, that it’s become a problem. The two main culprits are not properly cleaning items before recycling them, and putting things in recycling that aren’t actually recyclable – a phenomenon called aspirational recycling.

Residents are putting items in so often that China, which had been the market for about half of our recyclables, pulled out of the market. (It’s not just us. China is refusing recyclables from across the country.) The problem, say experts, are that items like plastic wrap, individual plastic bags, and soiled glass and plastic among others, gum up the works in the recycling machinery. Continue reading

Can do? City working with two Capitol Hill clubs after big trash and recycling bills

Seattle Public Utilities says it is working with two Capitol Hill clubs that have racked up big garbage charges after a program to remove dumpsters from Pike/Pine streets was rolled out this fall.

Ownership at Neumos and Chop Suey have complained about large bills, SPU says, after joining other area businesses in the change to three-times-a-day garbage, and twice-a-day recycling pickup using plastic bags in an effort to remove dumpsters from sidewalks and streets to make the neighborhood, officials hope, cleaner and safer.

For some, the program is also more expensive. Neumos co-owner Jason LaJeunesse has complained of what he says is a 255% jump in the club’s garbage bill under the new system which puts the 10th/Pike establishment on pace for more than $4,000 per month in trash and recycling pickup fees. “Have you guys heard any grumblings from business owners about the extreme financial hikes in the city mandated garbage program?” LaJuenesse asked in an email sent to media earlier this month. “Neumos is 35-40k a year more, when we were guaranteed it would be a 17% hike in cost.”

While SPU says Chop Suey has also complained of a big jump, other business owners around Pike/Pine CHS spoke with said the costs were high but in line with past charges. Continue reading

Seattle Food Rescue riding Capitol Hill to save good things to eat from the trash

Seattle Food Rescue volunteers Lucas, right, and Arthur (Image: CHS)

Seattle Food Rescue volunteers Lucas, right, and Arthur (Image: CHS)

America has a major food waste problem. That’s why for the past two years Seattle Food Rescue—a small volunteer non-profit organization of mostly college students — has been biking to grocery stores around Central Seattle picking up excess consumable food and delivering the goods to food banks and community partners around the city. Now, Seattle Food Rescue is partnering with Capitol Hill Housing to bring groceries right to the doors of residents at several properties.

“In an ideal world, all the food waste would be diverted from landfills to people who need it,” said Tim Jenkins, founder of Seattle Food Rescue. “That’s where we’d like to be headed.”

Jenkins a recent graduate of the University of Colorado who moved to Seattle in 2014, got the idea for Seattle Food Rescue from his time volunteering with Boulder Food Rescue, a very robust version of his operation which boasts around one hundred bike-riding, food-rescuing volunteers.

“I really liked the food distribution model that was focused around bicycles,” said Jenkins. “So I took that model and brought it out to Seattle and I’ve been slowly but surely expanding it ever since.”

Originally, Seattle Food Rescue partnered strictly with several food banks in Seattle — the University District Food Bank and the Pike Market Food Bank in downtown to be exact –acting as a vehicle to get perishable foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, pre-made meals like sandwiches and dairy products from grocery stores to food banks to be distributed. This focus fills what Jenkins calls a nutritional gap left by local food banks, who prioritize stocking non-perishable foods like canned vegetables and meats and staple dry goods like pasta and rice. Jenkins says his organization focuses on “anything that has a short shelf-life.”

In addition, Seattle Food Rescue only partners with small and medium sized grocery stores—not to be confused with corner stores—around Central Seattle, which Jenkins says are often overlooked by food banks who would rather focus their resources on bigger retailers who can offer a high volume of goods. Regular donors to Seattle Food Rescue include Capitol Hill’s Central Co-Op on Madison, the Broadway farmers market, and the Stockbox Neighborhood Grocery on First Hill, one of the first retailers to partner with the volunteer organization. Continue reading

City Council approves plan to require food-waste recycling starting in 2015


Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 4.10.39 PMThe City Council Monday approved a plan to require food-waste recycling in Seattle starting in 2015 — with fines for noncompliance by next summer.

Council Bill 118195 prohibits food waste and compostable paper from disposal as garbage. The requirements for single family homes, apartments, and businesses will go into effect with the new year with new “collection fees” levied starting in July. Single family homes with recyclable material in their garbage will be dinged $1 per container. Business owners and apartment building managers will find their disposal containers tagged and will be assessed with a $50 collection fee. Continue reading