February 1, 2013 in City

Trash diet success

More residents increasing their recycling, downsizing to less expensive garbage can
By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photoBuy this photo

Keith Fisher of the Solid Waste Department, delivers a 32-gallon waste can, left, and removes a 68-gallon can from a home on Spokane’s South Hill. More than 2,000 Spokane residential customers have switched to the smaller can in the past year.
(Full-size photo)

Pizza boxes

City of Spokane trash customers are now allowed to toss their used pizza boxes in their recycling carts. For years the boxes were banned because of food contamination. But the new recycling plant that handles material collected in curbside bins has determined that contamination is minimal and has agreed to accept them. Waste Management opened the recycling center on the West Plains in the fall.

Evidence is piling up at the new recycling center serving the Spokane region: More is being recycled.

One of the biggest signs of the change is the increasing demand for smaller trash cans.

The popularity of the 32-gallon cart – the smallest – already was trending up in the city of Spokane prior to the new system. But it spiked last year, and officials say requests for smaller carts is continuing as people notice how much they’re recycling in their new blue carts and how much space is left in their brown trash cans.

Spokane City Councilman Steve Salvatori is one of the 2,000 or so customers who switched to a 32-gallon cart last year.

“In our household, I fill my blue one all the time, and even though I downsized, I’m still not filling my brown one,” Salvatori said.

Curbside recycling customers served by the city of Spokane and Waste Management in other parts of Spokane County received new recycling carts in September and October as the systems began accepting more material, particularly paper and plastics.

Waste Management Inc. opened the Spokane Material and Recycling Technology Center in October to sort the material.

The company also collects curbside recycling from about 44,800 customers in unincorporated Spokane County, Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake, Airway Heights, Deer Park and Millwood. About 960 of those customers have requested smaller trash carts since the start of the expanded recycling system, said Robin Freedman, Waste Management spokeswoman.

She said Waste Management experienced a nearly 50 percent increase in recycling within the county at the end of 2012 after the new system was operational – diverting an estimated 520 tons of trash from the garbage system.

Sunshine Disposal and Recycling was the first company in Spokane County to start single-stream recycling. About 1,400 of the company’s 5,000 customers in Spokane County receive curbside recycling.

Steve Wulf, Sunshine’s regional manager, said customers continue changing to smaller carts more than a year after the system became operational.

“They put it off, put it off and finally they decide, ‘I’m going to make the call.’ ”

In Spokane, switching to 32-gallon service from 68 gallons is a significant savings. Customers pay $14.82 a month for 32 gallons. That compares with $26.84 for a 68-gallon cart and $39.18 for a 95-gallon cart.

Windsor said the city was prepared for a decline in revenue from residential customers and that much of the reduction will be offset by the lower cost to the city of dumping trash at the Waste-to-Energy Plant.

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