Why Extra Yard Waste Bags Cost Extra

Why Extra Yard Waste Bags Cost Extra

John MacGillivray, Solid Waste Programs Lead, City of Kirkland Public Works gives 3 tips on how to cut down the cost on extra yard waste disposal and answers the question: “Why am I charged an extra fee for extra yard waste?”

John says “I understand and appreciate [the] concerns about the fee for extra yard waste.  The solid waste rates adoption process at the end of 2012 was a challenge for everyone and one of the measures recommended by staff and adopted by the City Council to control costs to our rates payers was to end the $150,000 subsidy for extra units of yard waste paid to Waste Management for the 2013/2014 biennium.  There were several factors considered:

  • Potential impacts on our overall recycling diversion rate (we’re very proud of being #1 in King County every year!)
  • Potential increases in illegal dumping activity
  • Industry standard (Kirkland was the last city in King County not charging for yard waste extras)
  • Adequacy of the amount of embedded yard waste service provided at no additional cost

Staff has been closely monitoring the effects of this policy change and through October 2013 we saw a 52% drop in the number of extra units; a 9% drop in the amount of organic material collected at the curb; and no change in the amount of garbage tonnage collected.  Generally speaking, this data indicates that our residents are aware of the new charges; are better utilizing the space in their yard waste carts (packing it in); but are not throwing their yard waste in the trash.  We have also not experienced any increase in illegal dumping activity and the impact on our diversion rate has been nominal (about 1.5 percentage points lower than 2012).

That all said, we do recognize that this change has been impactful to our residents and I can assure you that this policy will be thoroughly evaluated, discussed, and reconsidered during the 2015/2016 solid waste rates adoption process beginning in the spring of 2014.  In the meantime, our residents may wish to consider:

Kirkland’s Adopt-a-Drain Program – Volunteers receive a free durable, poly-woven leaf bag in return for helping us remove leaves from the street and drains near their homes.  Participants may put out the bag at no charge.  We’ve got about 70 residents participating in this program and you’re welcome to join!  Please contact Betsy Adams, Surface Water Education and Outreach Specialist at (425) 587-3858 or badams@kirklandwa.gov for more information.

Ordering an Additional Yard Waste Cart – During the spring growing and fall leafy seasons, you can order an additional 96-gallon yard waste cart picked up once a week for a monthly fee of $12.92.  When the season is over, you can call Waste Management at 1-800-592-9995 to have it picked up.  This is significantly cheaper than paying $5.07 per 32-gallon extra unit.

Backyard Composting – While not for everyone, the City offered a free backyard composting class in September to help residents manage their leaves and create rich compost for their gardens.  Participants attending received a free backyard composting container.  We will be holding another class in the spring of 2014 so please keep your eye out for more information.

I’d welcome the opportunity to speak to you further if you have any questions:”  JMacGillivray@kirklandwa.gov


One Response to “Why Extra Yard Waste Bags Cost Extra”

  1. Chuck M says:

    From 2012 to 2013, I experienced a 25% increase in my Waste Management bill, followed by a drastic decrease in service provided for yard waste. $150,000 is $2/resident of Kirkland so I’ve made my contribution by paying more than $6 more on my bill every two months.

    Perhaps four times a year I have slightly more yard waste than I can fit into the container, which means 48 times a year I’m not fully utilizing what I pay for. I’d like a credit of $5.07 for each 32 gallons of empty space in my yard waste bin each week, please. I’d love to compost, but the rat population is already sky high in Kirkland and I don’t wish to contribute to this issue.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all get paid 25% more while reducing service? (My clients would fire me so not an option for me.) The citizens of Kirkland don’t have options with garbage pick up, so can’t “fire” our provider.

    “will reevaluate for 2015/2016” appears to be government mumbo jumbo for “won’t step up to the plate and take responsibility for a bad decision”. Why not return the service immediately and reevaluate with consumer input? If not, I’m looking for that credit on next bill.