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Solid Waste Programs and Policies

In addition to managing the City's contracted curbside waste collection services (provided by Waste Management) and providing special recycling events, Kirkland's Solid Waste Division develops policies to reduce waste generation and improve recycling and composting in the city, as well as being involved in regional and state workgroups. See the Solid Waste Program's 2020 work plan.

A New Perspective: Sustainable Materials Management
Waste management goals have historically focused on recycling efforts but we now know that recycling alone is not the answer. Sustainable materials management is a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles. Sustainable materials management takes a cradle-to-grave, holistic approach that considers opportunities to make products more durable, recyclable, and less resource-use intensive over a complete lifecycle, beginning at design and production, through use and reuse, and at the end-of-life through recovery and recycling. The ultimate goal is to achieve zero waste of resources.

We look to achieve this goal through work on:
  1. Waste Reduction
  2. Recycling and Composting
  3. Product Stewardship

Targets for the Solid Waste Program
kirkland's recycling rate and goalUnder the 2019 King County Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan, Kirkland will need to work towards new goals.

  • It sets a target for the proportion of waste that's recycled and composted versus thrown away in the landfill - called recycling diversion rate - of 70%. Currently Kirkland’s combined single family, multifamily, and commercial recycling diversion rate is about 46%.
  • Kirkland residents currently throw away about 8.1 pounds of material each week, while the plan’s waste disposal target would be 5.1 pounds.
  • The plan also calls for lower waste generation, the total weight of waste each person produces (including trash, recycling and compost).

Improved Recycling and Composting Access

  • By Kirkland ordinances, commercial and multi-family customers are required to have recycling capacity equal to their garbage capacity, and located next to each other where possible. Co-locating containers reduces the likelihood of contamination (garbage being put into recycling containers) and improves ease of recycling for employees and residents.
  • Kirkland provides public containers for recycling in downtown Kirkland and at all neighborhood parks. Big Belly Solar Compactors are located throughout downtown.
  • Compost service is available at no cost to qualifying businesses and multi-family properties. Multi-family residents that do not have on-site composting are able to compost food at our innovative public food scrap drop-off stations.
  • In cooperation with student group The Tomorrow Project, the City ran a pilot public food scrap cart in fall 2019, evaluating how well a public food compost container would work in downtown Kirkland. Unfortunately, the public food scrap cart was contaminated with plastic items all four weeks of the pilot, so the cart was removed in mid October. Learn more about the pilot and see photos of the contamination.

Waste Prevention and Reduction
waste hierarchyWaste Reduction Resources for Residents
As we put more emphasis on reducing waste in our community, not just recycling it, we've added a new section to our website. Learn why it's important to reduce your waste and how you can make less waste and reuse more.

Single Use Product Reduction Policies
The City of Kirkland's plastic bag reduction policy is intended to reduce unnecessary plastic waste and encourage consumers to use reusable bags or reduce unneeded disposable bags. A new Washington State plastic bag policylinks to external site will supersede Kirkland's policy beginning in 2021.

Staff presented introductory research and initial policy routes for addressing single use food service ware and polystyrene food packaging in Kirkland at the March 22, 2019 Public Works, Parks, and Human Services Committee. The same presentation was given at the April 2, 2019 Study Session. Staff have conducted further research and are currently preparing a supplementary report and proposed ordinance for Council to consider in 2020.

Regional Policy
Kirkland supports and participates in regional solid waste policy planning efforts.

Evaluating Extended Producer Responsibility for Washington's Paper and Packaging Recyclables
In recent years, the recycling system has faced dramatic changes that threaten its viability, leading to an exploration of alternatives. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a framework that shifts the cost of recycling from consumers to producers. By making producers of packaging and paper products responsible for managing what happens to it at the end of its life, EPR incentivizes producers to choose more recyclable options. EPR has been successfully implemented in the Pacific Northwest, in the province of British Columbia. A recent report created by the Responsible Recycling Task Forcelinks to external site - a collective of representatives from local governments, the waste industry, and other stakeholders - explores how EPR could be implemented in Washington State to manage packaging and paper, which make up the bulk of curbside recycling.

Supporting Product Stewardship Programs
Product stewardship is an environmental management strategy that means whoever designs, produces, sells, or uses a product takes responsibility for minimizing the product's environmental impact throughout all stages of the products' life cycle. Product stewardship programs exist in Washington for fluorescent lightslinks to external site, certain household electronicslinks to external site, and medicinelinks to external site, and are in development for paintlinks to external site. These programs provide better access for consumers to properly dispose of products that might otherwise have limited or challenging options.

Solid Waste staff participate on the Steering Committee of the Northwest Product Stewardship Councillinks to external site.

City Council Adopts the 2019 King County Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan
City Council has adopted the 2019 King County Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Planlinks to external site. Under the plan, Kirkland’s residents and businesses have new recycling diversion, waste generation, and waste disposal targets to meet. (See page 33 of this pdf.) Kirkland is meeting some of the plan’s targets but others will require additional effort and resources to reach.

The plan establishes a target recycling diversion rate of 70%. Currently Kirkland’s combined single family, multifamily, and commercial recycling rate is about 46%. Kirkland residents currently throw away about 8.1 pounds of material each week, while the plan’s waste disposal target would be 5.1 pounds. The plan also calls for lower waste generation, the total weight of waste each person produces (including trash, recycling and compost).

Under the 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 Houghton Transfer Station will be closed. The King County-led transfer station siting process will include opportunities for public involvement and comment.

Public Works
Engineering
123 5th Avenue, Kirkland WA 98033
T. 425-587-3800 | F. 425-587-3807
Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Operations & Maintenance
915 8th St, Kirkland WA 98033
T. 425-587-3900 24/7 | F. 425-587-3902
Mon-Fri, 6:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

General Inquiries - Contact us via the: 
Our Kirkland Customer Service Portal