How recycling works in Walla Walla

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In Walla Walla, residents have two waste bins, one for garbage and one for recycling. Residents can subscribe to a third for compostable waste such as yard clippings.

Public Works is responsible for the collection of residential, commercial and green waste, which are collected by sanitation officers who drive side-loader trucks that pick up the bins with a mechanical arm and dump the refuse into a tank in the back of the truck.

When the truck's tank is full, the waste is driven to the landfill. Green waste is dumped into a massive compost heap, while the trash is taken to the landfill.

Recyclables are collected by Basin Disposal Inc., a company based in Pasco that the city of Walla Walla has contracted. BDI President Darrick Dietrich said 44 percent of Walla Walla residents participate in the recycling program. The paper, cardboard, aluminum and plastics are gathered at Walla Walla Recycling, run by Marty Gehrke.

After Gehrke sorts and packs the recyclables, they are driven to one of SP Recycling's centers, in Tacoma or Portland, depending on the load's value. The company processes the paper and sells the other recyclables.

BDI doesn't collect glass because of its tendency to break and get mixed in or stuck to other materials, thus making it difficult and more expensive to sort.

Deitrich said that while he is proud of Walla Walla's recycling habits, residents could improve by remembering to keep glass out of the bin. Glass can be deposited in yellow bins placed in various locations around the city.

For more information, visit the city's website at www.ci.walla-walla.wa.us

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