Chapter 7 - Plan Direction and Implementation

Part 2 of the 2015-2020 Waste ReSources Plan presents the goals, objectives and strategies that will guide Waste ReSources on a continued path toward Zero Waste over the next six years. It sets forth what the Utility plans to accomplish and how progress will be measured. Objectives and strategies are designed to move forward on the four goals of the plan:

1.    Reduce the quantity of waste generated and disposed in Olympia.

2.    Increase the quantity of recyclable and compostable materials diverted from the landfill.

3.    Operate collection services safely and efficiently.

4.    Manage the Utility’s finances responsibly, with fair, equitable rates that promote waste reduction and recycling.

The 2015 Plan builds upon the work accomplished under the 2008 Plan, which focused on voluntary education and encouragement as the means for achieving waste reduction and recycling. The 2015 Plan continues with voluntary measures and also includes rate incentive and legislative strategies.

This chapter reviews Waste ReSources’ accomplishments since 2008, outlines current challenges and opportunities, reviews the research on which the Plan is based, and summarizes the strategies selected in response, with planned implementation dates. Objectives and strategies are described in more detail in Chapters 8 through 11.

7.1 Accomplishments Since 2008

Waste ReSources has accomplished a lot since the 2008 Plan began aiming toward Zero Waste. This section summarizes the highlights.

Waste Reduction and Diversion

•    Reduced total waste collected per capita by 15 percent between 2005 and 2012.

•    Increased the residential single-family recycling rate from 51 percent (2005) to 58 percent (2012) and a peak of 60 percent in 2010.

•    Increased the multi-family recycling rate from 8 percent to 15 percent.

Organics

•    Expanded the City’s curbside yard waste program to include food scraps and food-soiled paper. This resulted in 1,700 more organics customers — a 30 percent increase — and 1,000 more tons of organics collected.

•    Implemented a commercial food waste program that now serves over 100 business customers, and is diverting an additional 350 tons of organic materials annually.

•    Began a school organics collection program, which now includes 13 public and 3 private schools.

Education

•    Started a technical assistance and waste assessment program for businesses to help them reduce waste. Since 2008, 236 businesses have participated.

•    Started a waste reduction and recycling education program that is reaching all third grade classrooms in the Olympia School District.

•    Supported the Chamber of Commerce Green Business Awards.

Events

•    Launched a Zero Waste Events program, which provides recycling, organics and garbage containers for small events, parties and gatherings.

•    Implemented public place recycling in Downtown Olympia and assisted Olympia Parks Department with recycling in parks.

•    Expanded event recycling to all permitted and large events and added food scrap collection to the major events: Lakefair, Harbor Days, Wooden Boat Festival, and Sand in the City.

Collections

•    Moved to one-side road collection and added an automatic fleet tracking system (Zonar).

•    Reduced the number of trucks and staff by 60 percent, while the number of customers increased by 20 percent.

Planning

•    Worked with the Department of Community Planning and Development (CP&D) and the City Engineer to improve site planning to ensure adequate space for collecting recyclable and compostable materials.

•    Improved the data collection system to allow analysis by customer type, collection method and type of material.

•    Completed waste characterization studies in 2009 and 2014.

7.2 Challenges and Opportunities

This section highlights some of the challenges and opportunities that will either constrain or facilitate Olympia’s efforts to move toward Zero Waste.

A potentially huge opportunity for increased diversion exists in the quantities of recyclable and compostable materials disposed at the WARC. The 2014 waste sort showed that 15.5 percent of Olympia’s garbage is recyclable with current programs; 27 percent is compostable; and another 25 percent is potentially recyclable (see Chapter 3, Section 3.3).

This section discusses some of the obstacles to diverting more of this material by waste reduction, increased diversion, and improved operating efficiency.

Waste Reduction

Waste reduction is the top priority in the hierarchy of waste management. It is also one of the most challenging, due to the influence of consumerism and product and packaging manufacturers. Certain types of waste (plastic bags, Styrofoam, blister packs, etc.) are designed with a single use in mind, and lack economic and logistically viable recycling markets.

Consumers want to do the right thing, but are often unsure or confused. Education and outreach are not highly persuasive at changing product manufacturing or consumer purchasing habits. Working up-stream through product stewardship influences manufacturers to be responsible for the materials they produce. Local initiatives to legislate certain problem materials can be an effective tool for reducing waste.

Diversion of Recyclable and Organic Material

Waste ReSources faces a number of challenges related to increasing diversion of recyclables and organics.

•    Collecting glass with other recyclables or separately, given the conflicting needs of recycling processors and recycling markets.

•    Willingness of composting facilities to accept the variety of organic material collected.

•    Lack of data about commercial recycling.

•    Multiple haulers for commercial customers.

•    Variables making multi-family recycling more difficult.

•    Separation and processing of C&D debris.

Recyclables: Single-Stream vs. Separate Glass?

Paper mills in the U.S. and abroad do not want recovered paper that contains glass. In 2009 through 2012, the Washington State Department of Ecology led a work group in Southwest Washington to understand the commingled recycle system. The group developed a report on the best management practices for commingled recycle collection, including a recommendation to keep glass separate from other recyclables.

In 2003, Waste ReSources moved to single-stream recycling, collecting all recyclables in one container. The City’s recycling processor accepts the glass, but it is not recovered to be made back into glass. In 2013, China imposed restrictions (known as the “green fence”) on the quality of recycled material it would accept. The processing industry momentum is moving more and more toward single-stream with glass, which conflicts with end-users desire for higher-quality products.

Organic Waste: Food Only or Other Biodegradable Material?

Over the past few years, residential and commercial yard waste programs have evolved to include food waste, food-soiled paper and compostable service ware and packaging. While Olympia’s material remains relatively free of contaminates, some composting facilities in Washington are having difficulty dealing with the additional non-food materials. Thurston County’s compost facility only accepts yard waste and food waste, and does not want any other materials. Thurston County is now contracting with additional compost facilities to take material that contains too many other products. In 2014, the City and County developed a unified acceptance list for organics countywide. Footnote 10

Commercial Recycling: Lack of Data

Private companies collect the majority of recyclable material generated by Olympia businesses. However, they do not report quantities to the City and data reported to the State is not separated by jurisdiction. The lack of data makes it impossible for Waste ReSources to calculate an accurate commercial or overall recycling rate. At this time, the best measure possible is to estimate, based on State recycling data (method used in 2008 Plan), or to apply statistical averages, based on the number of businesses by size and type. These methods give results ranging from 30 to 50 percent (see Appendix 5, Residential and Commercial Collection Studies).

Commercial Recycling: Multiple Haulers

Because Olympia does not collect commercial recycling, most businesses have two haulers, Waste ReSources for garbage and a private company for recyclables. Organic material is collected by both Waste ReSources and private companies. Some businesses have expressed their desire for all services to be available through the City and on one bill.

Multi-family Recycling: Multiple Challenges

The City’s multi-family residential sector recycles far less than the residential single-family sector. Space limitations, frequent move-ins/move-outs, management layers, communication challenges, and competing interests all determine whether or not a complex recycles and how effectively. As with single-family customers, there is no recycling fee for multi-family properties and, therefore, most collect at least a minimal amount of recyclables for pickup. As urban density increases, it will become more important to maximize multi-family recycling through improved site logistics, communication and outreach.

Construction and Demolition Materials

C&D materials comprise a significant portion of the waste stream, but diversion is difficult for numerous reasons.

•    Local options for processing and marketing C&D material are limited to concrete and wood waste.

•    The County transfer station accepts construction materials for recovery, but the disposal fee is the same as for garbage. Also, hours for sorting C&D waste are limited, and mixed loads are difficult to separate.

•    The nearest full-service C&D processor is in Tacoma; it has been uneconomical for the City to haul waste out of County.

•    There is a lack of consistent and viable end-user markets for certain recoverable products, such as glass for road base.

Operational Efficiency and Costs

Maintaining operational efficiency will be challenged by the increasing number of customers, the potential for extreme weather and disaster to create excess debris, and the lack of leverage over recycling processing fees and markets. The Utility has an opportunity to reduce its carbon emissions by efficient fleet management, using green technology and encouraging waste reduction.

Increasing Number of Customers

The number of customers affects how many trucks and drivers are necessary to collect waste. More customers mean more waste and more time spent in collection. Together, these add to the operating cost, which can impact the fees customers pay for solid waste services.

Typical growth from infill can usually be absorbed into daily operations with minimal impact. However, construction of multi-family projects and annexation of new territory can result in a sudden rise in the number of added stops. This strains the Utility’s ability to collect efficiently with existing trucks and staffing levels. (See Chapter 3, Section 3.1.)

The multi-family sector is estimated to increase by 1,300 to 1,700 households by 2020 (Appendix 5, page 48). Planned annexations between 2015 and 2017 will add at least 400 new households and potentially more. By 2020, single-family households are expected to increase by about 1,000. Any new annexations after 2014 will be on a 10-year transition period, unless the number of new customers is not significant and the City and the private hauler, Waste Connections/LeMay, agree to shorter terms.

Extreme Weather Events and Natural Disasters

Extreme weather events and natural disasters often result in excess quantities of waste needing to be recycled or disposed. Solid waste collection and material flow is often interrupted, as a result of weather and natural disasters. Climate change is likely to increase the number of extreme weather events. Some operational challenges include:

•    Mud slides and flooding cause garbage train and truck transport delays, resulting in waste buildup at the transfer station and the need to limit waste collection from homes and businesses.

•    Severe snow and ice storms can result in excess waste, requiring quick response to clean up and dispose or recycle debris.

•    A major earthquake would likely result in vast quantities and varying types of waste that would need to be recovered and transported for disposal.

Tipping and Transfer of the City’s Recyclables

The City has little leverage on recycle processing fees or market values, and currently has only one viable outlet to market its recyclables. Therefore, the City’s ability to find competitive markets is limited. Having access to a tipping and transfer site where collection trucks could be emptied into long-haul trailers for transporting recyclables to a processor could lower the City’s overall processing costs by increasing revenue for recycled materials.

Reducing the Carbon Footprint

Waste ReSources has several opportunities to reduce carbon emissions. Efficient collection operations keep costs down and rates low and also reduce emissions. New technologies are available to “green” the Utility’s fleet. Waste reduction itself impacts the carbon footprint too. According to the EPA’s systems-based view, materials (goods and food) comprise more than 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Less waste hauled results in reducing emissions from Waste ReSources operations.

Timely Waste Composition Data

The City coordinates with Thurston County Solid Waste to complete a waste composition study every four years. These studies are valuable in showing long-term trends. However, they don’t provide timely feedback that would be useful for judging whether programs are having the desired effect.

7.3 Plan Research and Development

Waste ReSources has developed the 2015 Plan strategies in response to the challenges and opportunities surveyed above. Waste ReSources engaged Cascadia Consulting Group to research available data and recommend performance measures (Appendix 4), and to conduct an in-depth cost of service study that modeled alternative scenarios for commercial recycling, residential organics and residential glass collection (see Appendix 5).

Cascadia also produced a series of reports describing Olympia’s current programs, examples of programs from other jurisdictions, and recommended strategies:

•    Multi-family recycling (Appendix 6).

•    C&D debris reuse and recycling (Appendix 7).

•    Residential, commercial, school, and public event recycling and composting (Appendix 8).

Cascadia’s recommendations were then analyzed by Waste ReSources staff. Strategies were selected for implementation, based on a combination of impact, feasibility and ability to implement. Many of the strategies improve upon existing work, while others are new. Strategies not selected can be considered in the future, if conditions make them feasible, desired or necessary to continue progress toward Zero Waste.

7.4 2015-2020 Strategies and Priorities

Table 7-1 summarizes the 51 strategies planned for 2015 to 2020 and their relative priority. For each strategy the table indicates whether it relates to an existing or new program and when it is expected to be implemented. Some strategies are listed as both existing and new. In these cases, a new element is identified for implementation, while the existing program will continue with minor adjustments.

Relative priority is classified as high, moderate or low. A high, moderate or low priority represents a combination of importance, impact, and ability to implement, or affect the outcome.

Table 7-1 Summary of Strategies

No.

Objectives

Strategies

Relative Priority

Existing

or

New

When

Goal 1: Reduce the quantity of waste generated and disposed of in Olympia.

Objective 1A: Reduce per capita waste by 5 percent.

1A1

Encourage waste prevention in partnership with Thurston County.

Moderate

Existing/New

2016 -Ongoing

1A2

Promote grasscycling and onsite composting.

High

Existing

Ongoing

1A3

Continue third grade education and adapt for other grade levels.

Moderate

Existing/New

2015- Ongoing

1A4

Develop tools and systems to increase green purchasing.

Moderate

New

2016-2017

1A5

Support reuse, repair, sharing, and short-term rentals.

Moderate

New

2016

1A6

Support extended producer responsibility programs.

Low

New

TBD

1A7

Explore material and packaging bans.

Low

New

TBD

Goal 2: Increase the quantity of recyclable and compostable materials diverted from the landfill.

Objective 2A: Evaluate and understand waste stream characteristics and customer disposal behaviors.

2A1

Partner with Thurston County on waste characterization studies.

High

Existing

2019-2020

2A2

Conduct special collection routes annually to gather data on multi-family recycling.

Moderate

New

2015 and Annual

2A3

Request data on recyclables and C&D debris from private haulers and recycling and composting facilities.

Moderate

New

2015-2017

2A4

Require private companies to report quantities of recyclables and C&D debris they are collecting in Olympia.

Moderate

New

2018

2A5

Conduct behavioral studies to learn how to better motivate customers to recycle and compost correctly.

Moderate

Existing/New

Ongoing

2A6

Estimate greenhouse gas emissions benefits associated with recycling and composting.

Low

Existing

Ongoing

2A7

Conduct an independent analysis of residential recyclable material.

High

New

2016

2A8

Use recyclable material capture rates as a decision tool.

Moderate

New

2016-17

Objective 2B: Increase the quantity and quality of recyclable and compostable materials collected from single-family residential customers.

2B1

Conduct residential education and update education materials, as needed.

Low

Existing

Ongoing

2B2

Implement a cart inspection and customer feedback program.

High

New

2015

2B3

Continue collecting glass with other recyclables, while monitoring markets and considering a possible change.

Low

Existing

Ongoing

2B4

Consider banning easily recyclable materials from garbage.

Moderate

New

2017

Objective 2C: Increase the quantity and quality of recyclable and compostable materials collected from multi-family residential customers.

2C1

Continue cart-based collection of commingled recyclables, organics, and cardboard.

High

Existing

Ongoing

2C2

Continue and improve onsite technical assistance and outreach.

Moderate

Existing

Ongoing

2C3

Facilitate collection of products and materials for reuse and refurbishment.

Low

New

2017

2C4

Conduct door-to-door outreach at complexes needing the most assistance.

Moderate

New

2017

Objective 2D: Increase the quantity and quality of recyclable and compostable materials collected from commercial customers

2D1

Extend cart-based commingled recyclables collection to businesses, government agencies and institutions.

High

New

2015-2016

2D2

Encourage high-volume food waste customers to divert organic materials for composting.

Moderate

Existing

Ongoing

2D3

Expand onsite technical assistance for businesses on recycling and composting.

Moderate

Existing

Ongoing

2D4

Improve collection of recyclable and compostable materials from City buildings and facilities.

Moderate

Existing

Ongoing

2D5

Partner with other City utilities on technical assistance and participate in regional green business programs.

Low

Existing

Ongoing

Objective 2E: Increase diversion of C&D material.

2E1

Conduct a pilot test for transporting C&D to out-of-county processors.

Moderate

New

2015

2E2

Develop a C&D recycling, salvage and deconstruction toolkit.

Low

New

2016

2E3

Promote C&D recycling to builders.

Low

New

2016

2E4

Require permitted building and demolition sites to have separate on site containers for recyclable material and garbage.

Moderate

New

2017-2018

Objective 2F: Increase the quantity and quality of materials recycled and composted through non-curbside methods.

2F1

Explore an expanded drop-off recycling site within City limits.

Low

Existing

Ongoing

2F2

Develop additional Zero Waste Event educational material and continue offering collection containers at smaller public and private events.

Low

Existing

Ongoing

2F3

Encourage recycling and composting at public events

Moderate

Existing

Ongoing

Goal 3: Operate collection services safely and efficiently.

Objective 3A: Implement routing and service changes that increase operational efficiencies and maintain or improve service reliability.

3A1

Continue implementing one-side road collection.

High

Existing

Ongoing

3A2

Pursue automated GIS routing systems and on-board scales for collection trucks.

Low

Existing

Ongoing

3A3

Evaluate and refine routes and drive paths to eliminate overlap.

Moderate

Existing

Ongoing

3A4

Explore developing centralized garbage, recycling, and organics collection areas for Downtown businesses.

High

New

2016-2018

3A5

Coordinate with City Fleet Services on alternative fuels and hybrid collection vehicles.

Low

Existing

Ongoing

3A6

Create an emergency response plan for managing disaster debris and interruptions to collection services.

Moderate

New

2016

Objective 3B: Reduce the number of incidents and accidents.

3B1

Ensure that all Waste ReSources collectors are IAPD certified.

High

Existing

Ongoing

3B2

Participate in site plan review to ensure adequate space and access to containers.

High

Existing

Ongoing

3B3

Work with customers to eliminate unsafe conditions.

High

Existing

Ongoing

Goal 4: Manage the Utility’s finances responsibly, with fair, equitable rates that promote waste reduction and recycling.

Objective 4A: Ensure that customer rates are equitable and reflect a balance between the cost of providing service and the goals of promoting waste prevention and recycling.

4A1

Offer rate incentives for waste reduction and recycling.

High

Existing

Ongoing

4A2

Offer reduced and special rates for low-income and roll-out customers.

High

Existing

Ongoing

4A3

Use debt and reserves responsibly to smooth customer rate impacts.

Moderate

Existing

Ongoing

4A4

Consider bundling fees for residential organics collection with garbage and recycling fees.

High

New

2019

4A5

Consider an alternative rate structure for commercial collection, based on the cost of collection.

High

New

2016-2017

Objective 4B: Seek opportunities to increase revenue from non-fee sources.

4B1

Seek out the best value in recycling processors.

High

New

2016

4B2

Seek opportunities to increase revenue from non-fee sources.

Low

Existing

Ongoing