If it’s been bugging you that you can’t recycle that discarded pizza box from last night, worry no more.
Starting July 12, city of Spokane and Waste Management trash customers can toss that box – and whatever stale pizza is left inside it – in their yard waste bins.
Residents who don’t buy curbside yard service can take food waste to the Waste-to-Energy Plant or waste transfer stations.
Officials say yard waste prices won’t increase as a result of the change. That’s in part because while the volume of yard waste material is expected to increase slightly, the program likely will cause a slight decline in trash volume.
“Our view is there’s probably no discernable cost,” said Russ Menke, director of the Spokane Regional Solid Waste System.
Last year, of material not recycled within the Spokane Regional Solid Waste System, 72 percent of waste was burned at the Waste-to-Energy Plant, 16 percent was sent to a landfill and 12 percent was sent by truck to Royal City, Wash., for composting, Menke said.
Among the five largest cities in the state, Spokane will become the third to offer food waste collection at the curb. Seattle and Bellevue collect food waste for composting as part of their mandatory yard waste service. Vancouver and Tacoma, like Spokane, offer optional yard waste collection, but those cities don’t allow food waste to be mixed with yard debris.
Waste that can be added to yard waste bins as of July 12 includes:
•Cooked or raw food that’s not liquid.
•Paper coffee filters and tea bags.
•Food-soiled paper towels or napkins.
Treated wood, pet waste, plastics of any kind, paper cartons and dirt are among materials not accepted in yard waste bins.
Other cities that have started food waste programs have experienced a 6 to 8 percent increase in yard waste collection, said Ken Gimpel, municipal relations manager for Waste Management in Eastern Washington and northern Idaho.
Spokane sends its yard waste to Royal Organic Products, 120 miles from Spokane in Royal City. The business recently won permission to accept food waste.
Wayne Krafft, the Eastern Washington manager of the Department of Ecology’s Waste to Resource Program, said burning food waste in Spokane’s trash incinerator isn’t helpful to the plant’s electricity production since it’s mostly wet, and food waste that’s buried in landfills produces methane. That’s a much bigger concern in relation to global warming than carbon dioxide, which is created when material is composted, Krafft said.
Some city and county leaders have questioned the financial and environmental impacts of shipping yard waste so far away. Late last year, the solid waste system, which is led by the city, solicited bids for a 10-year composting contract. Menke said three companies responded. However, Menke said he decided to suspend the process until the future of the system is more certain.
In the next two years, contracts among the county and cities that form the system expire. Menke said the city decided that it would make more sense to pursue a shorter composting contract or a long-term deal once the makeup of a regional system is clearer.