Pilot recycling program ends; consultants studying results

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yakima's recycling experiment is over and the question now is what comes next. Tons of material that can be used again is now being processed. Consultants are taking a very close look at it. KIMA learned how that could help determine whether the program goes citywide.

It's quite a way to start the day. Elbow-deep in waste.

"We're doing this sorting study to see what people are putting in the curbside recycling bins," said Rick Hlavka.

Consultants hired by Yakima are taking stock of what was actually recycled during the Kissel Park pilot program. It ended Tuesday with the last pickups before crews took away the bins.

The point of this dirty work? To figure out how Yakima can help you sort your trash. And, to determine the companies most likely to buy and process what's been recycled, down the road.

"It moves pretty fast from here," said Yakima's Refuse and Recycling Manager, Loretta Zammarchi. "We're hoping that by mid-October, early fall, that we'll have information to present to council."

The city's collected roughly 25 tons of recyclables, most of it paper. Yakima saw 86 percent of the homes in the Kissel Park neighborhood participate in the pilot program.

But, it wasn't all smooth sailing. Greg Day missed his 96-gallon garbage can. He was frustrated with the 32-gallon one the city gave him for pilot program.

"That's a two-thirds reduction in garbage and that's asking a bit much."

But, Zammarchi says the city needs an answer for its trash with the current landfill about ten years away from shutting down.

"Once Terrace Heights closes, we are going to have a longer distance to haul our waste. And, we have to ask ourselves, what is the most cost-effective way of managing our waste?"

That's a question for city council to answer as it mulls taking the recycling program citywide.

Yakima didn't charge the Kissel Park neighborhood for taking part in the recycling project. However, a fee would be likely for a citywide program.