Trash goes into the city-issued bin, it gets wheeled weekly to the curb and it disappears.
That’s the end of the story for most Enumclaw residents, who pay their bill and don’t give much thought to where the garbage goes.
But there’s a multi-layered approach to getting spoiled leftovers from the back of the fridge to their eventual, underground destination. It involves a formal agreement between King County and nearly all the cities and towns in the county, including Enumclaw.
That agreement, which had been in place since 2001, was renewed during a late-July session of the Enumclaw City Council. Officially designated the “Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan,” it was passed unanimously.
Essentially, the agreement puts King County in charge of planning for solid waste disposal. Participating agencies include every city in the county except Seattle and Milton.
The interlocal agreement involves more than the simple hauling and burying of trash. Spelled out are long-term details surrounding recycling and waste prevention in general, the transferring of solid waste from one point to another and, finally, the eventually means of disposal.
Here are some of the highlights of the agreement, taken from a memo provided by City Administrator Chris Searcy to members of the council.
RECYCLING AND WASTE PREVENTION
Waste prevention and recycling are long-standing priorities. Recent recyclable market disruption due to China’s National Sword policy, placing stringent contamination limits on imported recyclable material, has led to policy changes that reflect the need to align comingled materials collected at curbside with viable markets, preferably domestic ones. Additionally, opportunities are identified to reduce waste via better diversion of organic material across all customer classes and enhanced recycling for multi-family customers.
TRANSFER OF TRASH
The original urban transfer stations constructed for the regional system were built more than 50 years ago, and do not meet current service level standards. Several have been upgraded (Shoreline, Bow Lake and Factoria) or are in the process of being upgraded (Algona). The Houghton (Kirkland) station is recommended to close when replacement capacity is available at a new northeast station; also, Renton is recommended to close when replacement capacity is available.
FINAL WASTE DISPOSAL
The Cedar Hills Landfill in Maple Valley has permitted capacity to meet demand until approximately 2028. The plan recommends further development of newly-permitted capacity to meet demand until about 2040, at an estimated cost of $41 per ton. The other two options under consideration were exporting waste to a regional landfill in either Eastern Washington or Oregon ($55 per ton) or a waste-to-energy plant (incinerator) at approximately $136 per ton.
Evaluation of future disposal methods (post-landfill) will likely begin soon, since siting of a waste-to-energy facility would take nearly a decade, should that option be selected.