July 20, 2011 in City

County adds recycling on West Plains

Commissioners OK contract for areas about to be annexed
By The Spokesman-Review

Curbside recycling will come to a portion of the West Plains this fall, a few months before part of the area is to be annexed by Spokane and Airway Heights.

Spokane County commissioners unanimously amended their “service-level” ordinance Tuesday to add much of Sunshine Disposal’s West Plains territory to zones in which recycling and garbage service are joined at the hip.

Anyone who wants garbage service will have to pay for recycling, too.

The same restriction applies in unincorporated suburbs north and east of Spokane as well as in cities – such as Millwood and Liberty Lake – that haven’t exercised their right to take control of garbage collection.

Previously, additions to the county curbside recycling zones have been by petition of residents. In this case, commissioners responded to a request by Sunshine Disposal.

The decision locks in Sunshine’s right to provide recycling as well as garbage service for seven years in areas to be annexed by Spokane and Airway Heights on Jan. 1.

Dave Mandyke, Spokane’s director of public works and utilities, asked in a letter last week that commissioners delay the decision or remove the Spokane annexation area from the action.

Commissioners said in interviews that they went ahead as requested by Sunshine because they felt residential garbage customers would benefit. They noted that only about 100 of some 1,266 residential customers live in the Spokane annexation area.

Sunshine offers the future city residents more opportunities to save money by reducing their garbage service when they remove recyclable materials from their trash bins, according to commissioners. They said the savings will help offset utility taxes of 22 percent in Spokane and 6 percent in Airway Heights.

City officials have objected that Sunshine plans not to recycle glass or batteries.

Industry officials say it isn’t practical to keep glass separate from paper in the “single-stream” collection method Sunshine wants to adopt. Materials are dumped together into a truck instead of being hand-sorted by the driver.

Glass has little or no value, and broken glass reduces the value of recycled paper. Sunshine officials also fear batteries will ignite paper.

Spokane Solid Waste Director Scott Windsor told commissioners in previous meetings that he believes Sunshine will have to accept everything city recycling crews are required to collect.

However, Sunshine Regional Manager Steve Wulf said state law requires only that the company provide service “similar” to Spokane’s.

“Either way, the county is not a party to that,” Commissioner Mark Richard said. “They get to duke that out.”

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