2018 Recycling Year in Review

Celebrating Earth Month City-Wide

Kirkland coordinated Earth Month in April 2018, a celebration of all things environmental. The month included a green cleaning class, Styrofoam recycling event, natural yard care workshops, a recycling center tour, and more than a dozen volunteer restoration events. More than 300 people followed along with our Green Home Challenge email course. Look for the Green Home Challenge and more events like these returning in Earth Month 2019!

How Much Do People in Kirkland Recycle?

Waste Management rolled out new reporting and data for cities, offering more information on our monthly garbage, recycling, and composting. That means we can’t compare the diversion rate (percent that gets recycled and composted versus thrown away) to previous years, but overall people in Kirkland are still enthusiastic recyclers! The proportion people recycle is not the only statistic we look at, though – we also want to reduce the overall quantity of waste that residents produce. In 2018, each Kirkland resident threw away about 8 pounds of material each week, and generated just under 20 pounds of waste (including trash, recycling and compost) each week. County-wide we have a goal of each resident disposing 5.1 pounds of trash a week, and also generating 20.4 pounds or less of waste each week. Though the 2018 numbers can’t be directly compared to previous years due to changes in data reporting, the trend is heading in the right direction (down).

Kirkland Residents Drop Off Special Recycling

  • Our Spring and Fall Recycling Collection events continue to be a popular way to recycle materials that aren’t accepted curbside. 1349 cars came through our Spring Recycling Event, and 1223 our Fall Recycling Event. Residents recycled:
    • 51,320 pounds of oversize scrap metal and appliances
    • 20,000 pounds of bulky wood
    • 100 mattresses and box springs
    • and much more!
  • We collected 10,439 pounds of batteries at our City drop off points in 2018. Residents recycled another 4,475 pounds of batteries at our Spring and Fall Recycling Collection events, for nearly 15,000 pounds of batteries total! It’s great that these batteries are being recycled instead of thrown away, allowing the metals to be used again, but we always encourage people to choose reusable batteries whenever possible. Modern rechargeable batteries like NiMH can be recharged and reused as many as 2000 times, with far less environmental impact than alkaline batteries.
  • We recycled around 650 compact fluorescent bulbs at Kirkland City Hall through LightRecycle Washington, with another 3300 bulbs and tubes recycled at our Recycling Collection events. CFL bulbs contain the hazardous material mercury, so they require special disposal, but the LightRecycle program is able to capture and reuse the mercury.
  • We collected an average of ~120 cubic yards of Styrofoam at each of our StyroFest events (pdf) in 2018, plus another 250 cubic yards at our Recycling Collection Events, for about 1500 cubic yards overall, enough to fill nearly half of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The Styrofoam is densified to remove the air, and the plastic is used in products like decking, plastic light switch plates, and picture frames.

Making Recycling and Composting Easier at Apartments & Condos

We continued to work on improving recycling at multifamily properties throughout Kirkland. We offered specialized recycling assistance to 35 multifamily properties, increasing recycling service at 10 of these and providing door-to-door education at 11 of them. We distributed 1000 recycling bags, made of recycled vinyl from billboards. (Does your apartment need a hand with recycling?)

Many apartments and condos started composting food scraps this year. For those residents who don’t have a compost cart available at home, we expanded our community food scrap drop off program to have a second location. Kirklanders can now drop off food scraps for composting at North Kirkland Community Center and City Hall.

Reducing Waste with A Costume Swap

We held our third annual costume swap, helping Kirkland residents reuse Halloween costumes instead of buying new. Members of the community donate costumes, then come pick from all the donated items, creating unique outfits from the costumes and accessories. With over 200 attendees, a lot of costumes made their way to new homes! Choosing second-hand costumes prevents a lot of waste and saves money.

Keeping Latex Paint Out of the Trash

The City of Kirkland partnered with Lake Washington Institute of Technology and GreenSheen to put on the area’s first latex paint recycling event. We collected 25,888 pounds of paint and containers, which will be recycled into 1,942 gallons of recycled content paint. 276 cars came through the event, bringing an average of nearly 94 pounds per car.

Latex paint recycling is new to Washington State, and drop-off locations are being added all over the King County region. Currently, the closest year-round drop-off point that Kirkland residents can use is the Bellevue Habitat for Humanity store. The old latex paint is screened, infused with mold inhibitor and resold as an environmentally friendly latex paint product.

Shredding at Events Instead of at Home

Shredding confidential papers with a service, instead of at home, allows the paper to be recycled. Shredded paper is not accepted in your home recycling cart because it is too small to be sorted by the Recycling Center. Shredding events are very popular; residents recycled 45,000 pounds of shredded paper at our Spring and Fall Recycling Collection events. To help more people switch away from shredding at home, we added an extra shredding event in December 2018, and are offering two additional shredding events in 2019 (pdf).