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Local task force recommends changes to improve curbside recycling

Summary

A task force studying improvements to the regional recycling system recommends removing plastic bags and shredded paper from the commingled recycling bin and expanding separate recycling options for those items.

Story

The Responsible Recycling Task Force, formed by the King County Solid Waste Division with Seattle Public Utilities, other city governments, and local solid waste processors, developed recommendations based on findings from a recently-completed recycling study.

The 10-month study was done in response to strict new quality control rules established by international recycling markets, including China. Plastic bags, wrap, and film, are the most problematic materials for recycling processors, clogging sorting machinery and contaminating other collected materials that are bundled for reprocessing overseas.

The Task Force recommends removing plastic bags and film from curbside recycling programs and expanding the Wrap Recycling Action Program , a program that collects these materials at retail locations.  Other options are being explored for shredded paper. 

While no immediate changes are being made to what can be placed in comingled curbside recycling carts, the task force supports the following bills proposed in the Washington State Legislature this session:

•Establishing a statewide plastics stewardship program to make collected plastics easier to process into new materials;
•Prohibiting single-use plastic carry-out bags statewide; and 
•Creating a recycling development center in Washington to encourage the development of new markets for recycled commodities. 

“People in our region value recycling because we understand that it is an investment in a sustainable future,” said King County Solid Waste Division Director Pat McLaughlin. “While the Task Force’s recommendations could mean changes in the way we recycle, these are the steps that we need to take to conserve valuable resources, minimize the impacts from global warming, and secure that sustainable future.” 

“We are grateful to all who participated in this important study,” said Seattle Public Utilities General Manager Mami Hara. “While no immediate changes are being made, the Task Force’s findings and recommendations set the stage for future improvements that will ensure Seattle continues to be a national leader in environmental stewardship and recycling.”

To learn more about the Responsible Recycling Task Force or how to “Recycle Right” visit:

Responsible Recycling Task Force: kingcounty.gov/depts/dnrp/solid-waste/about/advisory-committees/recycling-task-force
Recycle Right: kingcounty.gov/depts/dnrp/solid-waste/garbage-recycling/recycle-right


FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Doug Williams, Department of Natural Resources and Parks, 206-477-4543
Sabrina Register, PIO, Seattle Public Utilities, 206-446-8267