Curbside Recycling Program
Since May 1, 1997, residents of the City of Walla Walla have the convenience of taking their recyclables to the curbside rather than to the Neighborhood Recycling Stations initiated by Walla Walla 2020 in 1988. More recyclables were collected in one of the initial weeks at the curb (39,000 pounds) than in a month at the Neighborhood Stations (22,000 pounds). To celebrate curbside’s success and help you continue to contribute to its future success, we have compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions along with their answers.
Q–What household items can I recycle at my curbside?
A–Aluminum cans and tin cans; mixed paper (white or colored paper, catalogs, magazines, newspapers, and telephone books); cardboard; milk and juice cartons; and ALL NUMBERED plastics (see number in triangle on bottom of container) except STYROFOAM.
Q–Do I have to flatten the aluminum cans?
A–No. However, they can be flattened. Important is that the aluminum cans are empty and, if possible, placed in the bottom of the container under other recyclables to prevent theft.
Q–Can aluminum food containers, especially pet food containers, be put in the recycling containers along with the aluminum pop cans?
A–All aluminum cans are being collected as long as they are relatively clean. Aluminum foil and other (non-can) types of aluminum are presently being collected at curbside.
Q–Can I recycle anything that is glass in my curbside container?
A–No. Glass CANNOT be recycled in curbside containers or elsewhere in our community. Because glass is heavy, it requires a market in our proximity to make recycling glass economical. We are encouraging local entrepreneurs to start up wine-bottle-sterilization and glass-crushing-to-replace-fill operations.
Q–Since recyclables have to be clean, how do I support water conservation efforts? Isn’t this a waste of water?
A–Major washing is not necessary. A light rinse to remove food is enough, which can be done with water used for other purposes such as dish water before you drain it out. Remember, recycling saves water and energy and reduces pollution in the manufacturing process. To really conserve, you might consider purchasing durable goods which can continually be reused instead of recyclables/disposables.
Q–Should I bag or bind my magazines and newspapers?
A–No. Set them in the container loose, flat, and uncontaminated by any debris.
Q– How do I know what a “Numbered plastic” is?
A–On the bottom of each plastic container, there is a number in a triangle. If the plastic does not have such a number, then you cannot set it out for curbside recycling. This applies to styrofoam as well.
Q–What do we do with our mail? They often only have print on one side. Can we mix it with our newspaper?
A– Yes, office paper of all types is collected. For junk mail printed only on one side, use the other side for scratch paper.
Q–Do I have to sort my recyclables?
A–No. All items being collected should be placed in the one container.
Q–I have sorted all of my recyclables and tied them neatly in plastic shopping bags. Why hasn’t the recycling crew picked them up?
A—The crew only picks up materials in the containers or placed on top of the container in paper or plastic bags. All recyclables need to be placed loosely in the recycling container
Q– Although I know what is being collected, sometimes I have items that may or may not fall under one of the acceptable categories. How can I tell for sure whether something is acceptable?
A–Call the Curbside Recycling Hotline at 524-4503. Should you occasionally make a mistake, the city will leave a note to let you know when an item cannot presently be collected.
Q–Why did I receive only one recycling container? Shouldn’t there be a container for each recyclable commodity?
A– One container means less work for residents and the city, and one container is sufficient to hold the weekly recyclables of most residents.
Q–What if the container is not large enough for all my recyclables?
A–The recycling containers have a 16-gallon capacity. Other cities have found even smaller containers suffice with weekly pick up. If more space is needed because of a stockpile you have collected, fill your container full for the few weeks it takes to deplete your stockpile.
Q–My recyclables would not all fit in my recycling container this week so I stacked them neatly beside the container at the curb, but they were not picked up.
A– Recyclables must fit in your container. Extra recyclables can be in a cardboard box that will also be collected. Any items on the ground will not be picked up.
Q– I find the container is too heavy for me to take to the curbside. How are elderly and disabled folks going to get their material to the curb?
A– Recycling bin carts with wheels or dollies are available on the Internet. Call 524-4503 if you need help locating such a dolly.
Q– What if it is raining, snowing, or windy when I set my recycling container at the curbside? Shouldn’t the containers have lids?
A– When the weather is bad, lids help keep the recyclables dry and from blowing away. However, lids are extra work for the collector. For those days when the weather is bad, please place a board or garbage can lid on top of your recyclables or cover them with one sheet of newspaper and weight the newspaper down with any recyclable bottles you have.
Q– I live in a very small apartment with no space to store the recycling container.
A– You might find that the recycling container takes the place of one of your trash cans because you are separating recyclables that formerly went in the trash can. If that is not the case, are any common areas available in the building where you could store the recycling container?
Q– There is not enough common area to store one recycling container for each apartment in my building.
A– Investigate two or three of you sharing one container. Would that provide you sufficient space for your recyclables?
Q– We are moving to another home in Walla Walla. Should we take our recycling container with us?
A– No. The recycling container is like the trash container. It should stay with the house. You should find a recycling container at the home you are moving to. If not, call the Curbside Recycling Hotline at 524-4503.
Q– Will the recyclables be picked up on the same day as my trash?
A– Yes. However, the time of day will be different. The containers need to be at the curbside before 8:00 a.m. and removed after the recyclables have been picked up, usually no later than 4:00 p.m. Please call the Walla Walla Recycling Curbside Hotline at 524-4503 if your recyclables have not been picked up by 4:30 p.m. to verify that they will be picked up that evening.
Q– Because I purchase products with low-to-no packaging, return as many containers to the originator as possible, and use durable (as opposed to disposable) products, I have very little to recycle or dispose of. Is it better to put what little I have out each week or wait until my recycling container is fairly full?
A– Please wait until your container is fairly full to set it out. That makes the best use of the city’s time and, thereby, helps keep the recycling fees low.
Q–I have noticed that when the city picks up my trash the mechanical arm often knocks over the recycling container I have setting nearby. What can I do to avoid this?
A–Please be sure to place your recycling container several feet away from the trash container when setting them out.
Q– Is the City of Walla Walla picking up my recyclables?
A– No. Basin Disposal has the City of Walla Walla contract to pick up the recyclables.
Q– What does the monthly recycling fee pay for?
A– The fee covers the cost of the recycling service (driver’s salary, truck maintenance, purchase of recycling containers and other supplies, administrative costs) minus any money the City may earn selling the recyclables.
Q– Is the city making money on curbside recycling?
A—Not at the current time. The long-term goal is to avoid as much material going to the landfill as possible since the cost of lining new landfills is expensive. The immediate goal is to collect enough money to provide the service and yet provide economical rates to residents.
Q– If I do not use the recycling service, do I still have to pay for it?
A– Yes. Curbside recycling is a mandatory service for all Walla Walla City single family households and multifamily dwellings up to 10 units to preserve valuable resources and save landfill space. Just as with police, courts, and street repairs, we all pay for services that benefit the entire community whether we personally use the service or not.
Q– I just moved here from a city where the trash pick up rate was dependent on the amount of trash and there was no charge for curbside recycling. Why don’t we have variable trash rates in Walla Walla so those of us who are conserving Walla Walla’s resources will see a cost savings in our trash bills?
A– The City of Walla Walla does not offer variable trash rates. Trash rates dependent on the amount of trash are an option the City of Walla Walla may consider in the future.
Q– I do not understand why we have to recycle much less pay for it. Who started this any way?
A– To help preserve our natural resources, the State of Washington passed the “Waste Not Washington Act” in 1989 with the result that urban areas (which Walla Walla is classified as) require a curbside recycling system or one that collects a comparable amount of recyclables. A study of Walla Walla showed that a curbside recycling system would recover six times more recyclables than the neighborhood station system. In our years of curbside recycling, the statistics prove that point.
More recyclables were collected in the first week alone at the curbside (39,000 pounds) than in a month at the Neighborhood Stations (22,000 pounds). In addition, two surveys were conducted asking the citizens of Walla Walla whether they wanted curbside recycling. The response was a very definite yes.
Q–Why is the City not collecting glass, unnumbered plastics, or Styrofoam?
A–What can be recycled is determined by whether there is a market for it. Presently, it is not economically feasible to transport the glass, unnumbered plastics, and styrofoam to a market.
Q–Why are scrap metal and other potential recyclables not being collected?
A–The commodities selected for collection are those feasible to pick up at curbside and economical to recycle. At the present time, recycling the above items does not meet those criteria. Should those conditions change, these items could be added to the curbside recyclables. In the meantime, take such items to your local recycling dealer. Walla Walla Recycling, Inc. (827 N. 12th Avenue) has cardboard collection containers available. They are like dumpsters and can be serviced regularly for a monthly fee by Walla Walla Recycling, Inc.
Q–Can I recycle the waxed (lightweight cardboard) milk cartons at the curbside?
Q–Why don’t renters and those who live in mobile home parks have curbside recycling?
A– The City is examining the cost of including large complexes with eleven or more units in curbside recycling. In the meantime, please work with your complex manager to make special recycling arrangements with a local recycling dealer. Call 524-2626 for special pick up arrangements.
Q–When will we have curbside recycling in the suburban area outside Walla Walla’s city limits?
A–Curbside recycling outside Walla Walla’s city limits comes under the jurisdiction of the Walla Walla County Commissioners. Please discuss your desire for curbside recycling with them. In the meantime, residents outside Walla Walla city limits should take your recyclables directly to Walla Walla Recycling (North 13th & Elm, 525-1482).
Q–Can I still take my recyclables to a nearby Neighborhood Recycling Station in the City of Walla Walla?
A–No. The previous stations within the city limits and the county have been removed. Please do not leave any recyclables at former station locations. They are not being serviced and if you abandon recyclables at unauthorized locations, it is considered littering and subject to a fine. If you do not have curbside service, take your recyclables to Walla Walla Recycling (North 13th & Elm, 525-1482). For questions, call the Walla Walla Recycling Curbside Hotline at 524-4503.
Q–If I have questions about or problems with curbside recycling, whom should I contact?
A–For specific curbside recycling questions, call the Walla Walla Recycling Curbside Hotline at 524-4503.
Q–What type of information do you need when I call the Curbside Hotline for special assistance?
A–When making hotline inquiries, it is always helpful if you provide your address and phone number. This information will assist the recycling crew in pinpointing curbside routing details and other service needs.
Q–Is information on curbside recycling available in Spanish?
A–Yes. Call the Walla Walla Recycling Curbside Hotline at 524-4503 to receive a copy in Spanish of how to recycle at your curbside.