29 October 2017

Waste Management to ship recycling to Spokane after Chinese rule change

Waste Management Inc. will be transporting its recycled materials to Spokane following a change to Chinese import laws.

In July, the Chinese government notified the World Trade Organization that it plans to stop importing 24 kinds of materials, including types of unsorted paper and plastic typically sent from the U.S.

“It includes yogurt containers to pizza boxes as contamination because there’s no use for it when they’re greasy,” said County Solid Waste Director Patti Johnson. “The change will affect Seattle more than us.”

Right now, recycled materials that are brought to the Kittitas County stations are trucked by Waste Management to Woodinville in King County. That waste is then transported to Seattle for final shipment to Chinese markets.

Waste Management will be shipping recycling to Spokane by the end of the year. Johnson said there will be no discernible change in cost to the county.


Meanwhile, the county is looking for a new location for the Ellensburg transfer station on Industrial Way. The lower county site, which serves people from Elk Heights to Vantage, has had problems with flooding and limited space while struggling to keep up with increasing demand.

The county is evaluating proposed sites at a cement plant site off of I-90, a site at Bowers Field Airport, and a site west of Berry Road near Tjossem Road.

No decision has been made. The county has been accepting input from the public online and during public meetings.


Meanwhile, the county is having difficulties improving the screening process for accepting septic waste, Johnson said.

The county currently takes in about about 1.2 million gallons of septic waste a year, Johnson said.

Cleaning the bar screen that the septic waste flows through can be difficult. The screen's holes are only 3/8 inches wide, Johnson said, and dumping septic waste through the screen can take a long time without adequate water.

The county commissioners have requested an investigation into developing a nearby water supply.

Kittitas County Commissioner Obie O'Brien suggested said that the county has a number of options, from trucking in water from neighboring counties to drilling a new well.

The estimated cost for either options are unknown, but the latter might risk contamination from the nearby Ryegrass landfill, according to Johnson.

“I don’t want to puncture rock,” Johnson said. “I’m not gonna tell you that contamination wouldn’t run down hill.”

O’Brien agreed, saying that the move could be more trouble than it would be worth in the long term.

“I’m reluctant to puncture granite and risk any chance of leakage,” O’Brien said.

Source: 12 October 2017

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