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Citizens want used bins recycled

An initial plan to throw away the old, plastic recycling containers formerly used by King County Waste Management was scrapped after a few Federal Way citizens called to complain.

Waste management crews have been distributing new recycling containers since mid-December as part of a transition to a new curbside recycling program.

The agency has been encouraging its customers to use the new containers instead of the old ones — they’re bigger, they have lids and wheels and they’re more compatible with new trucks the agency has acquired.

Customers can keep the old containers free of charge, but some residents who didn’t want them were surprised at what they were told to do with them.

Gay Snelson said she doesn’t have room for her old baskets, so she called waste management. She said she was told to put them out with the trash.

“I got to thinking — this is dumb,” Snelson said. “We are throwing recycle bins, key word recycle, in the landfill?

“I don’t understand why waste management wouldn’t find something to do but throw them in the landfill.” So she started making phone calls.

Waste management heard.

Last Friday morning, waste management and city officials agreed to recycle the baskets after receiving phone calls from a couple of their customers, said Rob Van Orsow, the solid waste and recycling coordinator for the City of Federal Way.

Still, waste management wants people to convert to the new system.

In addition to getting new trucks and containers, they also expanded the catalog of recyclables they will collect.

Customers can use the old plastic containers for a variety of purposes, like gardening, sorting laundry or storing household items, Van Orsow said.

And if customers don’t want the old recycling baskets, they can call waste management at (253) 833-3333 and specify they want them picked up with the recycling.

Some of the old recycle bins will be reused or transferred on to other programs. Those that are too dilapidated to reuse will be sent into the recycling program. “We’re not going to be using those that are at the point of no return,” Van Orsow said.

Despite the questions surrounding disposal of the old containers, Van Orsow said the new program will be better than the last.

The new trucks come equipped with compactors, allowing drivers to complete a whole route in one trip without having to return to drop off their loads mid-route.

The new containers are compatible with the trucks’ lifting systems, which means employees don’t have to do as much heavy lifting, saving them from fatigue and possible injuries.

The new recycling containers are bigger than the old ones so customers can fill them fuller, possibly allowing them reduce the number of pick-ups they need each month.

Lids on the containers reduce litter.

The benefits and cost savings to waste management amount to a savings to customers, whose rates are expected to drop by 11 percent to 21 percent, depending on the size of the container.

“It’s a new approach to the system at no additional cost,” Van Orsow said.

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