New recycling options, schedule landing in LL
By Jim Ryan
Liberty Lake residents will have a new destination for their junk mail this month, not to mention items like cereal boxes and mixed plastics that have long been treated as trash. This week, the community is in the midst of a transition to a new Waste Management recycling program that doesn't just expand recyclables, but supersizes the blue container those recyclables are deposited into.
Representatives of Waste Recycling Services Inc. began distributing new 96-gallon carts to single-family homes in unincorporated Liberty Lake (those living south of Sprague Avenue) on Monday, and Waste Management will follow suit beginning next Monday for city residents. The carts replace the present 18-gallon blue bins and are intended to be a one-stop container for all the family's recyclable materials.
As a rule of thumb, once the carts are delivered the first pick-up will occur two weeks later. With the new cart delivery, there will be either a green or yellow plastic bag attached that will contain an introductory letter and a recycling guide with the basic information explaining the program. Waste Management District Manager Marco Gonzalez said it is vital that each household retain the guide and the attached calendar because it highlights the collection weeks. The southern portion of Liberty Lake's recycling will be picked up on one Monday, while the northern part will be picked up the following Monday. Typical garbage collection will continue to be picked up on a weekly basis.
At the present time, the program is designed for only single family homes and does not include apartment complexes or local businesses.
Ken Gimpel, Waste Management Municipal Relations Manager for Eastern Washington/ Idaho, explained that the basic change for the program is that residents will go from their 18-gallon bins collected weekly with only limited recyclable materials to the larger container collected every other week, which will take a myriad of recyclable products, including clean paper and cardboard, glass bottles and jars, metal and foil and plastic containers.
He emphasized customers must be cautious not to place their regular garbage in the new recycle carts, as that could contaminate the entire load once the truck reaches the recycling center.
Indeed, plastic trash bags are discouraged for use in the recycling carts as they could clog the separating equipment at the new Spokane Material and Recycling Technology (SMART) Center. The $20 million center, which is located next to the Waste to Energy plant on the West Plains, opened last month.
Although the new carts will allow for the combining of a multitude of recyclable products, the new technology in place at the SMART Center has the ability to sort each item as it speeds along on a conveyor belt.
Gonzalez said that the change is ultimately in response to years of customer comments as to why Waste Management wasn't accepting materials that have been typically considered recyclable.
"Our customers were asking more of us, and the SMART facility and the larger carts are the solution," Gonzalez said. "And the change of going from a weekly collection to every other week is part of our efforts to control the cost of such a large conversion without raising the rates for our customers."
Collection of both garbage and recycling is one set rate for Waste Management's customers, depending on the size of their trash container, and right now there are no plans to raise rates to those single family customers utilizing the new program.
Gimpel said Liberty Lake customers will also be seeing new Waste Management trucks picking up the carts. The company recently purchased 18 new trucks that will run on natural gas instead of diesel. He explained the older trucks with diesel engines have a fuel cost of a little more than $4 per gallon. Running the new trucks will cut that cost to about $1.69 per gallon.
The new vehicles will not be able to handle the phased-out, 18-gallon bins, Gimpel said, as they are designed to top-load the new carts, and the drivers will not be able to dump the smaller bins into the trucks.
When the new carts are delivered, customers have the option of keeping the smaller blue bins for storage or anything they wish, excluding recyclables, or setting them out alongside the new carts and Waste Management will take them away to be recycled, he said.