Recycling Highlights from 2019

We partnered with Waste Management and their summer interns to bring a neighborhood recycling event to North Kirkland

We’re lucky to be able to bring more recycling and waste reduction options to a community as passionate about recycling as Kirkland is! As we reflect on 2019 and look ahead to 2020, we wanted to share five highlights from our recycling team’s work over the last year. Our team of three works on everything from hosting recycling events to collaborating on regional recycling projects and goals, from giving away zero waste lunchboxes at summer concerts to partnering with local schools to waste less food at lunch.

Drop-Off Recycling Collected in 2019

One part of our recycling team’s work is providing opportunities for our residents to recycle challenging items. As well as several events, we offer drop-off recycling sites for many different difficult-to-recycle items that cannot go into residents’ carts at home. At these drop-offs, Kirkland residents recycled:

We were excited to add confidential shredding to two StyroFest events in 2019 (and are offering FOUR shredding events in 2020!), because shredded paper is not able to be recycled in residents’ carts – it is too small to sort at the Recycling Center and becomes the worst kind of confetti! We’re always looking for ways to provide more recycling access to our residents, so we were happy to team up with Waste Management to offer an extra neighborhood recycling event in North Kirkland during the summer of 2019.

New Goals Adopted for Recycling and Waste Reduction

graph of diversion rate for Kirkland residents and businesses from 2009-2019

The City of Kirkland adopted King County’s Solid Waste Comprehensive Plan, which included new County-wide goals for recycling and waste reduction. The diversion rate, or percent of material that’s recycled and composted instead of sent to the landfill, is one of the important numbers that we track.

Another important number is the total quantity of waste that we produce, regardless of which bin it goes in. We call this waste generation. It’s important to weigh both of these numbers because it’s possible to keep the same diversion rate while increasing waste generation.

Example of how it’s possible to maintain diversion rate but increase waste generation

We also look at the total amount of material that’s thrown away (waste disposal). Although Kirkland residents are great at recycling and composting almost all they can, the amount of garbage produced by the community is still higher than our goal.

While recycling and composting are helpful ways to reclaim material, they do still have a cost. Composting food reclaims the nutrients as a soil enhancer, but cannot recapture the water or energy that went into growing the food. Recycling materials also uses energy and resources to remanufacture them into usable items, and not all materials are infinitely recyclable.

New Policy Requires Businesses to Recycle

before and after of waste room with improved recycling

At this mixed use property, recycling capacity was increased from 26% to 45% and the room was decluttered by switching from carts to a dumpster

A new policy adopted by City Council over the summer requires Kirkland businesses to recycle basic recyclables (e.g. paper, bottles, cans), and to have enough space for recycling. Our standard is that businesses should have the same amount of space for recycling as they have garbage.

Kirkland businesses don’t recycle and compost as much of their waste as residents do, but we need their support to meet our community’s goals. This policy was inspired by the success we’ve had with a similar policy passed a few years ago requiring multifamily properties (apartments and condos) to have enough space for recycling.

Tackling Food Waste at Lunch with LWSD

two bins for leftover food at elementary school

2019 was a year of partnerships with local schools and students, with three different collaborations. One of these projects was partnering with Lake Washington School District and King County Green Schools to bring lunchtime food rescue to several Kirkland elementary schools. Kids are often served more than they like to eat, as well as items that they do not like. Rather than just throwing them away, now students can return unopened snack items and milk cartons to share bins and refrigerators purchased through a grant. Kids that are still hungry can take snacks from the share bin, and remaining items at the end of the day are sent to a food bank, along with uneaten fruit.

26 Kirkland Businesses Recognized for Going Green

Twenty-six businesses in Kirkland have now achieved recognition as green businesses through the EnviroStars program. New businesses that earned their recognition in 2019 include:

Congratulations to these green businesses for being environmental leaders in our community! EnviroStars businesses follow best environmental practices to handle their waste, reduce their water and energy use, prevent pollution, and more. We visited over 150 restaurants in Kirkland to let them know about the free help they can receive through the program.

We’re looking forward to lots more in 2020! See our recycling team’s work plan for the special projects on our docket.