2017 Recycling Year in Review

For some, 2017 was a trying, tumultuous, and odd year to say the least.  We all experienced a new administration in Washington, DC; horrific shootings in Texas and Las Vegas; devastating hurricanes in Florida and Texas; a disturbing trend in sexual harassment allegations and scandals; the tragic loss of some famous musicians; polarizing national anthem protests by some NFL players; the constant threat of being nuked by North Korea; and for me, an anti-climactic solar eclipse.

Whew. We packed a lot of negativity and gloom into 365 days, didn’t we?

But on the bright side (see how I did that with the segue from the eclipse?), your Kirkland Solid Waste and recycling team continued do its part in 2017 to enhance Kirkland’s reputation as a welcoming community and make it a great place to live, play, visit, work, and do business through focusing on providing innovative, progressive, and, dare I say, fun waste reduction and recycling opportunities and programs to our visitors, residents, and businesses.  So with that in mind, here are a few of our 2017 highlights and achievements.

Out of the Ashes… A New Green Business Program

12 Baskets Catering in the kitchen

12 Baskets Catering, the first Kirkland business to get recognized as an EnviroStars green business

After three years of a collaborative program development process with several regional partners, the new EnviroStars Regional Green Business Program kicked off in September and replaced the floundering Kirkland Green Business Program which began in 2007.  The free program is intended to help participating businesses become more sustainable and give them recognition for all of the things they do to positively impact our environment.

Waste Not, Want Not

Kids check out the accessories table to personalize their new costumes at our 2nd Annual Costume Swap

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Ah, yes, the three “R’s. While recycling is good, reuse is better, and reducing is … betterer? Not only do we promote recycling, we try to get our residents to keep items out of the waste stream in the first place or, better yet, decrease their waste footprints entirely. We held several successful events in 2017 including our 2nd Annual Halloween Costume Swap, public Earth Month events at City Hall, Sustainability Education Series classes, a Green Home Challenge (you can sign up to participate in 2018!), and distributed hundreds of durable Bento Box lunch kits to school-aged kids.


Recycling styrofoam at our monthly StyroFest event

Every month, we stand in awe of the amount of expanded polystyrene (EPS) (the technically correct term for Styrofoam™) in the form of packaging blocks and food service ware like cups and clamshell containers and plastic wrap, bags, and film residents bring to us. We average around 80 to 100 cubic yards per StyroFest event! It goes to show that we have a lot of work to do in shrinking product packaging and encouraging restaurants to offer compostable food service products as alternative to the insidious polystyrene foam.

Recycling by the Numbers

  • In 2017, Kirkland single family residents kept 69% of their waste out of the landfill (either recycling or composting it). This is on par with the rate for the past ten years. Thanks for doing your part to recycle and compost!
  • Apartment and condo properties generally recycle and compost less of their waste due to a lot of complicated factors — and helping people who live in apartments and condos recycle more has been one of our focus areas for several years. In 2017, apartment and condos kept 22.8% of their waste out of the landfill, up from 15.7% in 2008. Check out the graph above to see the awesome growth!
  • Businesses participating in our food scrap composting program composted the most in a year so far: 616 tons of food! That’s up from 577 tons in 2016 and 409 the year before.
  • We offer a community drop-off station for recyclables at City Hall, as well as collection points for batteries around the city. In 2017, Kirklanders recycled:

Doing our Bidding

Having not gone through a competitive procurement process for solid waste and recycling collection services for 15 years, staff completed a request-for-proposals process, receiving proposals from long-time incumbent service provider Waste Management and local competitors Republic Services and Recology Cleanscapes. After deliberations, the City Council opted to extend its current contract with Waste Management through June 2020 in lieu of awarding a longer term contract to one of the proponents.

Look at us! Public Agency Recyclers of the Year

Accepting our “Municipal Recycler of the Year” award from the Washington State Recycling Association. Photo by WM.

In May, the Solid Waste team was recognized as the 2017 Public Agency Recycler of the Year by the Washington State Recycling Association. We were humbled to be nominated by our friends at the City of Bellevue as well as our contractual partner Waste Management, and proudly accepted the award on behalf of our residents, businesses, leadership, and City Council who are buying what we’re selling.

What are we working on in 2018?

Over the next year, we’ll be doing lots to teach people about proper recycling and making it easier for Kirkland residents and businesses to go green. We will:

  • Offer StyroFest, our Halloween Costume Swap, and our regular Recycling Collection Events.
  • Continue to help people who live in apartments and condos recycle more.
  • Spread the word about the awesome programs available to Kirkland residents, like recycling old clothes and linens with Threadcycle.
  • Help people reduce their waste, especially food waste.
  • Run the Green Home Challenge email course for a second time (you can sign up now to participate in April).
  • Help more businesses go green and get recognized through the EnviroStars Green Business Program.