With the change of seasons, it’s a good time to start grudgingly recognizing the possibility that Western Washington may be blanketed with snow for a few days in the not-too-distant future, sending our world hurtling toward the precipice of chaos and the eventual downfall of our society as we know it.  Well, it’s probably not that bad, but for many of us snow can be a big inconvenience that prevents us from traveling to and from work, buying groceries, or even getting our trash and recycling picked up.

Given the season, I thought it might be a good time to slay some misconceptions about inclement weather and your garbage and recycling service:

Waste Management saves money by not picking up your garbage and recycling.

Not only does Waste Management have to pay their drivers for the day service is missed, they have to pay lots of overtime to their drivers for the extra work done picking up a double load the following week.  It takes much longer to complete a route when they have to pick up extra bags of garbage and recycling at most homes and businesses on their route. The City does not compensate Waste Management for any overtime costs or other costs associated with inclement weather.

Waste Management doesn’t have a plan.

Waste Management works very hard on inclement weather contingency plans.  If there is a threat of snow, Waste Management’s route managers are out in the wee hours of the morning checking the roads to see if collection can be provided safely that day.  They will delay their decision as long as possible, but only up to a cut-off time where they know that they will be unable to provide service to the entire route on that day.  If you want to find out if your service will be delayed due to an inclement weather event, please visit the Waste Management Weather Board.

The City of Kirkland doesn’t have a plan.

We recognize that missing any garbage and recycling service is a burden to our customers.  Most of us can endure one missed week of service but when two weeks are missed the situation can become intolerable.  In the event a second consecutive week of service is delayed, we have a contractual arrangement with Waste Management to deploy garbage and recycling collection vehicles at convenient, pre-arranged sites throughout the city. In this way, we hope to provide our customers with a place to bring their trash and recycling until the weather improves and Waste Management can return to a regular service schedule.

Service was missed so I should receive a credit on my account.

We recognize that a week or two of missed service is a major inconvenience to our customers.  However, if service was still provided a week or two late, it wasn’t permanently cancelled – it was only delayed and was eventually provided in full.  If a double (or triple) load of trash and recyclables are picked up the week following an inclement weather event, City of Kirkland policy does not allow us to issue any credits.

I’m powerless and there’s nothing I can do!

Yes there is! One of the best ways to prepare is to purchase a small 32-gallon trash can for $20 or so at your local hardware store.  In the event that service is cancelled because of snow, you’ll have somewhere to store any additional trash.  To manage your recyclables, consider purchasing some 30-gallon paper yard bags (“kraft bags”).  You can find a five pack of them for under $2 at most stores.  Just fill the bags up with your recycling and put them out at the curb on your next regular pickup day.  You could also use an extra garbage can labeled “Recycling”.

be-prepared-winter-weatherSee our Winter Weather Preparedness guide (pdf).