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Council approves revised plan for solid waste system that reflects reduction in volume received


Collaborative Solid Waste Transfer Plan review calls for smaller, right-sized transfer station network


In 2006, King County was projecting the construction of new solid waste facilities to handle increase volumes of waste as the County revamped its aging solid waste transfer system. Lower projections for waste tonnage prompted a reevaluation of just how much expansion was needed to handle regional garbage needs, necessitating building less facilities and finding other ways to meet revised demand projections. 

At its June 9 meeting, the Metropolitan King County Council accepted the report that reviewed the County’s Solid Waste Transfer and Waste Management Plan. Adopted by the Council in 2007, the Plan approved investments for a major upgrade of the network of transfer stations (through which waste loads from cities and unincorporated areas are consolidated for transport to the Cedar Hills Landfill), to address old and outdated facilities.

 “Outreach and transparency has been essential to forming this new, money-saving plan and would not be effective without collaboration or our city partners,” said Vice Chair Jane Hague. “I appreciate all of the work that has been conducted by the Solid Waste Division, King County Auditor’s Office and King County Council to ensure that the solid waste transfer system is right sized to provide appropriate services at predictable and competitive rates.”

“Our citizens deserve a regional solid waste system that meets service needs and protects taxpayers,” said Council Chair Larry Phillips. “Utilizing current data and actively working with regional partners helps ensure we can strike this balance.”

When adopted by the Council, the plan was intended to address the potential closure of the Cedar Hills Landfill—which was expected to reach capacity and be closed by 2015— and projections that waste volumes would continue to increase significantly. Among its recommendations was the rebuilding or construction of at least two new solid waste transfer facilities to replace existing stations in northeast and east King County to handle the increased volume.

Last year, the Council called on the County Executive to review the plan in light of reduced volume at the current facilities and significant declines in projected future volumes, as well as the closure date of the Cedar Hills Landfill being extended until at least 2025. It’s also expected that the city of Bellevue—which has historically generated 8 to 9 percent of the waste managed through the system—will leave the system in 2028. 

The resulting report states that while the County needs to continue its upgrade of the transfer system, that it may not be necessary to construct a new transfer facility in northeast King County. Further regional review will be undertaken to make a final determination, based on waste volume trends, system capacity, transactions management strategies, and related factors. The County will potentially save funds that in the original plan would have been directed toward the building of a new transfer facility in northeast King County. 

“I’m encouraged by the report the council adopted as it shows that recycling is working and therefore we may not need to invest in another new complete transfer station,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “It’s important to be prudent with taxpayer dollars and this is a great example of how we can save money while continuing to promote recycling and proper waste disposal.”

“We have worked hard to revise this report to help ensure we build a solid waste system that fits the need of its users,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “I am pleased my amendment studying the needs of self-haul users at the Renton Transfer Station is included in the final report so we are in a better position to address their needs should this location ultimately be closed.”

The review involved collaboration between the County and the cities that contract with the County for transfer services. Meetings were held involving representatives from cities, solid waste advisory bodies, commercial haulers, local residents, and others—each had their views heard and their ideas recorded and considered.

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