Communications Program Manager
KIRKLAND, Wash. – The City Council recently adopted the 2019 King County Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan.
Once the King County cities’ approval process concludes in September, a new Northeast Recycling and Transfer Station will be sited and built and Kirkland will have new recycling diversion, waste generation, and waste disposal targets to meet. Kirkland is already meeting many of the plan’s goals, but some of the new standards will require additional effort and resources to reach.
Under the new plan a new transfer station will be sited and built somewhere in the northeast County service area. This service area includes the cities of Kirkland, Redmond, Woodinville, and Sammamish. Modern transfer stations offer recycling services and acceptance of difficult-to-recycle items such as appliances, mattresses, fluorescent tubes/bulbs, polystyrene, yard waste, and sharps. Once the new station is built, the old Houghton Transfer Station will be closed. The King County-led transfer station siting process is anticipated to begin in the fall of 2019 and will include opportunities for public involvement and comment.
The new plan for managing the county’s solid waste represents a significant change in thinking about waste management and sustainability. For many years, the key metric used to gauge the success of Kirkland’s recycling programs has been the recycling diversion rate, or proportion of material recycled versus thrown away. While the plan still considers recycling diversion an important indicator, it also incorporates the philosophy of sustainable materials management. Sustainable materials management is a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles, from resource extraction to product manufacturing and transportation to end-of-life disposal. The approach puts greater emphasis on waste prevention and reduction compared to a sole focus on recycling.
The plan establishes a target recycling diversion rate of seventy percent. Currently Kirkland’s combined single family, multifamily, and commercial recycling rate is about forty-six percent. Kirkland residents currently throw away about 7.8 pounds of material each week, while the plan’s waste disposal target is 5.1 pounds. The plan also sets targets for waste generation, the total quantity of waste each person produces, including pounds of trash, recycling and compost.
To meet the new goals, Kirkland Solid Waste Division staff will be focusing on helping businesses and multifamily properties improve their recycling, as well as implementing waste prevention and reduction programs. A recently-passed ordinance requires that Kirkland businesses have recycling service, and have as much capacity for recycling as they do trash. The City is working with a consultant to provide move-in recycling kits at some new apartment complexes, as well as door-to-door outreach at existing properties to educate multifamily residents. Over the past school year, the City partnered with Lake Washington School District and King County Green Schools to pilot a food share program at several Kirkland elementary schools, to reduce student food waste at lunch. The popular Halloween costume swap will return for a fourth year this fall to help community members exchange and reuse costumes.
For more information about the 2019 King County Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan, visit kingcounty.gov/solid-waste-comp-plan. For more information about Kirkland’s recycling and waste reduction programs, visit kirklandwa.gov/recycle or contact email@example.com.