King County, Washington adopted a goal to achieve Zero Waste of materials by 2030 with a focus on keeping “materials of value” out of landfills. The Zero Waste strategies being implemented are recycling, reuse, waste prevention and product stewardship.
The 2011 solid waste plan sets goals to recycle 70% by 2020 and reduce waste generation to 20.4 lbs per capita, per week, a 24% reduction from 2007. The county also set goals to reduce waste disposal to 14.2 lbs per week for households and 22.9 lbs per week for businesses.
The county’s Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan in 2011 focuses on the following elements:
- Lead by example with waste prevention and recycling at all public facilities and events and strong environmentally preferable purchasing policies
- Provide waste prevention and recycling education in schools and improve school recycling programs
- Continue supporting regional efforts for producer responsibility programs, including framework legislation for addressing a variety of products and packaging, and specific programs for paint, carpet, fluorescent lighting, mercury thermostats, rechargeable batteries, pharmaceuticals, mattresses, junk mail and telephone books
- Promote waste reduction by promoting deconstruction instead of demolition and the reuse of building materials, as well as coordinating programs to donate leftover food from big food generators to those in need
- Increase recycling of food scraps and soiled paper, and of plastic wrap and plastic bags
- Consider diversion requirements to increase recycling of construction and demolition materials
- Focus on recovering organics, clean wood, scrap metal, and cardboard from transfer stations and self-haul loads.
The plan specifically prohibits incineration as a means of disposing of marketable recyclables or yard waste. It also specifically accounts for the climate change impacts of managing discards and incorporates the principles of equity and social justice into the planning process.
Despite 99% of residents having access to curbside recycling and composting programs and strong business programs as well, the County found almost 80% of materials in the regional landfill could have been recycled, composted or reused.
King County Take it Back Network Brochure
Draft Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan, King County 2011
Kind County Zero Waste Principle, County Code
King County Solid Waste Division Zero Waste
King County Solid Waste Division Comprehensive Plan
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