Much needed waste and recycle directory is in the works for our region
With the exception of some curbside recycling programs in North Central Washington Communities, figuring out what you can recycle and the appropriate way to dispose of waste items can be a very difficult and time-consuming process for business owners and residents.
That will change if the board and executive director of Sustainable Wenatchee are successful in launching an online, searchable database. They are partnering with the Spokane River Forum to develop a database for Chelan and Douglas counties.
The local version will be called the North Central Washington Waste and Recycle Directory and will be built using the successful Spokane-Kootenai Waste and Recycle Directory platform, which allows business owners and residents to go online and search for how to get rid of a wide variety of things, from computers, waste paper and cardboard to more esoteric items like mercury thermometers, old asphalt and wood pallets, according to Rick Edwards, who chairs the task force studying the project.
Edwards is a former Forest Service employee with a background in hydrology who has a passion for helping the community protect and enhance the air, water and soil quality.
Sustainable Wenatchee is dedicated to helping residents and businesses protect our natural resources and build community by promoting a culture of reducing what we throw away in the landfill. Underlying their work is the belief that we can all make simple adjustments and help clean up our environment and enhance the health of community members.
The potential to build a similar website by contracting with the Spokane River Forum was an idea first broached a year and a half ago by Andy Dunau, the executive director of that organization, along with Steve Gimpel of the state Department of Ecology
That was at the beginning of the pandemic and Sustainable Wenatchee executive director Jana Fischback and the board decided it was not the right time to launch an ambitious new project, but the concept was intriguing and, 18 months later, they’ve decided to launch a $30,000 fundraising effort to make a recycling database for Chelan and Douglas counties a reality.
The need for a directory is evident. Fischback said she gets a constant stream of inquiries from residents here asking about the appropriate way to recycle items, such as different kinds of batteries, water heaters and even textiles.
They’ve been floating the concept of the NCW Waste and Recycle Directory with some of the solid waste officials in nearby communities and have gotten strong support for the concept.
If you go to the Spokane River Forum website, users type in an item that they want to recycle and get back the private and public vendors who will recycle that item. When I typed in “asphalt,” the Spokane Waste and Recycle Directory came back with a list of transfer stations that accepted asphalt and also private vendors who take asphalt. There’s also an educational component that gives residents information about recycling that item.
Here’s a link to that site: spokaneriver.net/wastedirectory/
Sustainable Wenatchee is trying to raise funds through grants, local governments and private citizens to contract with the staff at the Spokane River Forum to populate the NCW Waste and Recycle Directory with content and get the site up and running.
Fischback and Edwards told me the plan is for Sustainable Wenatchee to take over management of the site and have an ongoing relationship with the Spokane organization for technical support. The annual cost is estimated to be about $3,000 per year, which is affordable.
One side benefit of developing this waste and recycle website is that it will show where we can look for new opportunities to reduce what we throw away and reuse or recycle those items. One side benefit Fischback hopes to achieve with the project is filling in the gaps, such as the need for a glass crusher in the valley.
One thing I learned from Fischback and Edwards is that there is now a way to recycle pieces of styrofoam and any other #6 plastic item like plastic bread loaf tieds at Dolco Packaging, thanks to a partnership they developed with a company in Oregon called Agilyx that is recycling the material.
You can support the local project by accessing the gofundme.org page by searching for NCW Waste and Recycling Directory. This is a great community-building effort that could make a meaningful difference.