Woodinville will stop hosting recycling events, the City Council decided at its Sept. 17 meeting. Instead, the city’s public works department will focus on connecting residents with other vendors and agencies that recycle the same materials.
"What we are finding is, there are a lot of options out there that have come into the market since these recycling events were created in the 90s," Public Works Director Tom Hansen said. "Back then, we didn’t have the infrastructure, the private organizations doing the recycling that we do today."
From 2008 through 2012, the city spent about $50,000 per year on its recycling events, including spring and fall recycling and collection events, a tree chipping event (discontinued after 2010) and a spring garden fair (discontinued after 2011). Grants from King County and the Department of Ecology paid for the events, including the costs of staff time and hauling recycled material away.
At many of the events, attendance has been dropping, and the cost to the city has been decreasing as well, Hansen said. Now, he sees the city’s role as that of an information resource.
The recycling events have never accepted paper, plastic and aluminum, but instead recycled more obscure items: wood, electronics, appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners, gasoline, batteries, styrofoam and more.
"We started looking at, ‘Okay, who else provides that service locally?’" Hansen said. "... Most of them are available five to seven days a week, and most of them are within a couple miles of the city."
Councilmember Liz Aspen noted that attendance at some events, such as the Spring Garden Fair, had actually increased over the five-year period.
"I was really surprised by the numbers, when we compared year to year to year, they didn’t drop dramatically," she said. "They’ve stayed pretty consistent each year, as some of them have actually done better as the years have gone by. That tells me that there still is an interest for us to provide that. That’s the only concern I have."
But Hansen emphasized there are already other organizations that provide the same services.
"It’s not like it’s all going away; it’s just done by a different agency close by," he said.
King County recycles glass, metal, paper, plastic and textiles for free at the Houghton Transfer Center in Kirkland. The center also accepts yard waste and clean wood for $75/ton and refrigerators and air conditioners for $30 each.
The Wastemobile, another King County service, travels to Bothell and sets up camp in the Seattle Times parking lot six weekends per year to collect hazardous household waste, including batteries, cleaners, pesticides, fluorescent bulbs and tubes, gasoline and mercury products and propane tanks.
Private companies in and near Woodinville, such as JACO Environmental and Bobby Wolford Trucking and Demolition, recycle other materials. The city will also continue to accept batteries and prescription drugs for recycling.
The city has considered putting bins in neighborhoods for people to recycle yard waste, but that plan would be expensive, because in order to use grant money, an employee would have to monitor the bins to make sure only yard waste goes in. But the city will keep trying, City Manager Richard Leahy said.
"We’re going to try to work over the county a little more," he said. "If you put a bin out in a neighborhood and say ‘Green Waste Only,’ you don’t need to have somebody pay somebody $50 an hour to sit there to make sure people are throwing yard waste in there. That doesn’t make any sense."