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Recycling burned because of snowstorms

Most of a week’s worth of recyclables picked up along Spokane’s curbs after heavy December snowstorms won’t be turned into other products.

After the record snowfall, officials suspended most curbside recycling services for a week or two. The plastics, paper, glass, metal and other materials collected from recycling bins were taken to the Waste-to-Energy Plant with other garbage to be burned, Solid Waste Director Scott Windsor said.

Rather than leave items at the curb, the city opted to pick up most recycling routes with garbage trucks, Windsor said. Recyclables normally are sorted at the curb into compartments on recycling trucks.

As residential streets became passable for recycling trucks, normal pickup resumed, Windsor said. “They get stuck pretty easy,” he said. “They don’t do nearly as well as other garbage trucks.”

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, who learned of the temporary change this week, said she would have preferred the decision to have been announced at the time.

“It’s an understandable error under the circumstances, but we should have informed the public,” Verner said.

Waste Management, which collects trash in Spokane Valley and much of the rest of Spokane County, did not suspend recycling service after the snowfall, said Steve Wulf, the company’s district manager.

Two truckloads, however, were turned down by Spokane Recycling Products and taken to the incinerator. The loads were judged to be contaminated as a result of sorting difficulty workers had at the curb because of snow and ice, Wulf said.

Windsor noted that energy created from the city’s trash incinerator generates electricity.

“It is beneficial use,” Windsor said. “It’s not like it’s going to a landfill.”

Jonathan Brunt can be reached at jonathanb@spokesman.com or (509) 459-5442.


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