Waste Management offers cash prizes in Federal Way for recycling properly

Be a pro recycler and earn the chance to win cash.

Waste Management, the city's garbage and recycle hauler, has launched a Clean Cart Challenge. From now to the end of August, a prize patrol team will be peeking inside residents' and business's recycle bins. If the can contains only items that can be recycled, the owners can win a $50 or $150 cash card.

"It's really an educational campaign," Waste Management Northwest spokeswoman Katie Salinas said.

The Clean Cart Challenge is meant to encourage residents and people working in Federal Way to become more educated and participate in recycling. More than half of what is thrown in the garbage, in Federal Way and in King County as a whole, could be recycled, Salinas said.

"We're trying to make it fun and put some energy back into recycling," Salinas said.

Residents are eligible for the $50 gift card. Businesses are competing for $150 gift cards. Waste Management is hopeful that businesses awarded a gift card will share the wealth with their employees.

"We're encouraging them to use that to reward their employees for their recycling efforts," Salinas said.

Residents in apartment complexes also have an opportunity to participate in the challenge. If the complex appears to have a clean recycling bin, every resident receives a $5 coffee gift card, she said. All gift cards will be delivered in person or sent by mail.

Residents and businesses hoping to increase their chances of getting the cash, can pick up recycling tips at Waste Management's Clean Cart Challenge website at Some commonly trashed items that could be recycled include milk and juice jugs and scrap metal, said Jeanette Brizendine, Federal Way recycling project manager. People get confused with plastics because they were previously taught to look on the bottom of the container for the triangular recyclable symbol and numbers to determine whether the item can be recycled, Brizendine said. Residents are now encouraged to take note of their plastics' shape when considering recycling. Plastic bottles, jugs, tubs and cups can be recycled.

Scrap metal mixes people up as well. Guidelines say it can be recycled if it's 2 feet or less in length, 35 pounds or less in weight and is not sharp or greasy. But the guidelines are still vague, Brizendine said. To many people's surprise, unusable pots, pans, utensils, non-hazardous aerosol cans and tools that meet the above guidelines can be recycled, she said.

"There's a lot of confusion on what is recyclable here and now," Brizendine said.

Waste Management is conducting Clean Cart Challenges in neighboring jurisdictions. It expects to give away roughly $10,000 this summer, Salinas said. The challenges will run through the summer in Federal Way, Kirkland, Redmond, Bothell, Auburn, Marysville, Burien and areas of unincorporated King County served by Waste Management. Winners must be Waste Management customers. Customers who do not wish to participate in the program may contact Waste Management at the same e-mail address.

Federal Way residents and businesses that are masters at recycling and waste reduction will be highlighted on the Clean Cart Challenge website. E-mails, photos or videos depicting top-notch Federal Way recyclers are encouraged. Photos and other media can be sent to


Currently, King County's recycling rate is 47 percent, according to a draft of the comprehensive plan. Federal Way has a 30 percent recycling rate. The rates include commercial, residential and multi-family recycling. By 2015, the county's goal is to increase the recycling rate to 55 percent. Ultimately, it would like to eliminate the disposal of materials said to have economic value, according to the draft comprehensive plan.

"The bigger goal that King County has is sort of zero wasted resources," said Jeanette Brizendine, Federal Way recycling project manager.

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