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How the trash can save you cash

Disposing of garbage and recyclable items just became a bit easier for Federal Way residents.

The city recently adopted two alternative recycling methods that went into effect the first week of July.

All-in-One recycling allows residents to combine several recyclables in the large blue container provided to them, eliminating the need for a smaller blue basket for bottles and cans.

The Food + Recycle method, also referred to as food scrap recycling, allows residents who pay for yard waste services to combine their yard waste with food waste in the brown container provided to them.

Residents will not be forced to partake in these newly introduced recycling services, said Rob Van Orsow, Federal Way Solid Waste and Recycling Coordinator.

"People don't have to change their behaviors if they don't want to," he said.

However, a change in recycling behaviors could lead to a more environmentally-friendly city — as well as decreased garbage hauling service rates for residents, Van Orsow said.

With All-in-One recycling, paper, cans, cardboard, glass and plastic can all be placed in the same container. The method improves efficiency and productivity in collecting recyclables because it only requires one container, Van Orsow said.

Aside from Renton, Federal Way is the only city in King County that has not already adopted this recycling method, Van Orsow said, noting that some cities introduced the methods four years ago.

This service is offered to residents at no additional cost and the recyclable items will be picked up every other week on the same day that garbage is picked up. Plastic lids, caps, bags, styrofoam or plastic-coated paper products should not be included with recyclables.

"The main thing for people to know is: It is easier and everything goes in the big blue cart," Van Orsow said.

All waste that can be broken down into compost can now be combined in one container using the Food + Recycling method.

Items such as food scraps, leftovers, greasy pizza delivery boxes, egg cartons and uncoated paper plates and cups currently comprise more than 30 percent of what is thrown out in garbage cans, Van Orsow said.

By participating in this recycling method, that waste can be combined with yard waste such as grass, leaves and small branches in the brown yard waste container. This is just the beginning of the recycling process.

After being collected, the yard and food waste mixture is sent to Cedar Grove Composting in Maple Valley, which turns it into compost-based soils, then sells it to customers for use in fertilizing flowers, trees, shrubs and lawns.

"It makes more sense to turn the garbage into a product that can be used instead of just burying it in the ground," Van Orsow said.

The city expects some residents will have a hard time getting used to the recycling methods. Even in cities that adopted the Food + Recycle service years ago, some residents are still being accustomed to the method, Van Orsow said.

"Realistically, we know it is going to take a while for people to adopt it, but at least it's an option that is there," Van Orsow said.

If one is unsure as to whether an item can be recycled, the resident should just throw it away or inquire further before disposing of it, Van Orsow said. Although the option may seem less environmentally friendly, throwing a non-recyclable in with recyclables could result in much more waste due to contamination, he added.

For a quick reference of what waste products can be combined using the Food + Recycle method, residents should read an informational flyer that was sent to all single-family households during the last week in June and first week in July, Van Orsow said.

Saving money

Some residents may find the methods not only easier, but more cost-effective.

For individuals and families that tend to create a lot of garbage, decreasing the size of their garbage container and paying for yard waste services could be cheaper, Van Orsow said.

The monthly cost for garbage hauling service in Federal Way for a 10-gallon waste can is $4.73, and the cost for a 32-gallon can is $11.64 — while the cost for a 96-gallon yard waste can is $6.86, Van Orsow said.

The yard waste container is picked up once a week on the same day as garbage services between the months of March and November. December through February, the container is picked up every other week. Each household will need to evaluate its garbage and recycle producing habits and decide for itself if the Food + Recycle option will save money, Van Orsow said.

There's only one landfill left in King County. Once that area is full, garbage will have to be hauled to other locations. The cost to transport waste to another landfill would likely be passed on to all King County residents who subscribe to garbage-hauling services, Van Orsow said.

"The idea is by doing a lot of individual actions, if you add them together it will help create savings in the rate structure," Van Orsow said.

Contact Jacinda Howard at jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or at (253) 925-5565.

To receive a yard waste container, or for more information about the Food + Recycle method, call (253) 833-3333 or 1-800-592-9995 or visit www.cityoffederalway.com.

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