King County has a Zero Waste of Resources by 2030 goal referenced in King County Code 10.14.020, the Strategic Climate Action Plan, and 2019 Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan. Recovering organic material is an essential part of reaching this goal.
In 2018, organic materials comprised of more than 35% of what was disposed at Cedar Hills Landfill. This represents a significant wasted resource.
- In 2019, King County funded research into Organics Materials management Download PDF 1 MB in our region which set out the regional organic material data and an organics market assessment.
- When processed into a soil amendment (compost), these materials provide a significant benefit to the environment. Compost improves soil health, which along with healthy air and water is vital to ecosystem survival.
- Methane gas, a potent Greenhouse gas is generated as these materials degrade. Recycling these materials helps mitigate this impact.
- Compost is beneficial for many uses including agriculture, erosion control, stormwater management and land restoration.
- The current market demand for compost synchronizes with supply of material produced, however to recycle more material, additional markets are needed to spur on additional processing capacity.
- High quality compost is critical for strong and sustained market demand. Non-compostable materials such as plastic and glass are ending up in King County's curbside food & yard waste bins, compromising our local composting process and the quality of the end product. To help address this problem, King County Solid Waste Division completed a qualitative research study in August 2019 in order to better understand the root causes of curbside compost contamination. The study's in-home interviews helped King County gain a deeper understanding of the beliefs, attitudes & behaviors that are contributing to this problem. These insights, detailed in the final report Download PDF 1.3 MB, will inform future public education and outreach efforts.
The King County Council requested the Executive submit an Organics Market Development Plan Download PDF 600 K to expand and enhance the regional market for compost that is produced using the county's organics stream. The intent of the Organics Plan is to develop new uses to increase local demand which will help divert organic materials (food, yard, wood and compostable paper) from the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill through recycling. To help inform the plan, in 2019 stakeholders from around the region gathered for two organics summits to provide input on barriers, challenges and opportunities.