By Amy Phan
Herald staff writer
MOSES LAKE — The City of Moses Lake has diverted nearly 1.7 million pounds of material from landfills since the city implemented its recycling program two months ago.
Residents recycled nearly 861,000 and 855,680 pounds of material in August and September, respectively, according to Moses Lake Finance Director Ronald Cone. Residents recycled about half a million pounds of yard waste separately during those two months.
“Residents are responding to the program,” said Cone.
The city will be able to rebate accounts participating in the program 37 cents in their next billing cycle, due to revenue generated from sales made to a recycling firm, said Cone.
There are currently 5,500 households in Moses Lake participating in the recycling program, he said.
“We bought 13,000 additional carts, costing the city nearly $600,000,” said Cone.
By the end of the year, Cone said he hopes to see residents recycle more material.
“I would like to see our numbers increase by 50 percent by the end of the year. By the end of 2011, I’d like to see the number increase to 60 to 70 percent,” he said.
The city implemented the recycling program on Aug. 1, changing the previous monthly garbage rate of $10 for a 96-gallon garbage cart into a three-tiered cart system.
“The council board decided to lower the rates 10 years ago. Prior to that, the monthly garbage rate was $13,” said Cone.
Residents who opted for a 48-gallon garbage cart would pay $13, a 64-gallon garbage cart would cost $18.50 and a 96-gallon garbage cart would run $25.
Residents received a recycle and yard waste cart along with the new monthly garbage rates.
Moses Lake Mayor Jon Lane said the recycling program is a vital part of preserving the county’s landfill.
“Recycling extends the life of our landfill,” said Lane in a recent city council meeting.
Grant County has used the same landfill, located in Ephrata, since 2005.
The landfill measures 80 acres in perimeter and can store up to 5.3 million cubic yards of waste, according to Grant County Solid Waste Supervisor Janice Goeden.
“We have used about a million cubic yards of the landfill. It has reached 20 percent capacity,” she said.
Once the landfill reaches capacity, Grant County will set aside a federally mandated reserve fund for re-mediation purposes, said Goeden. The fund will be paid on a fee basis by people who have used the landfill.
Officials project the landfill will reach capacity in 2023.
She said the recycling program Moses Lake has implemented is a good use of resources.
“We strive to divert as much waste as possible. Landfills are not the best use for anything. We really support the recycling in Moses Lake,” said Goeden.
Cone said investing in a recycling program makes economic sense as well.
“Right now, it costs $27.76 for one ton of garbage dumped at the landfill. Eventually, this landfill will fill up. The (state) Department of Ecology will have to monitor this inactive landfill for about 50 years for gas and contamination,” said Cone. “We will continue to have to pay for a landfill that we will no longer be able to use.”
Moses Lake residential waste contribution piqued in June, dumping about 779 tons of garbage in the landfill, according to a solid waste analysis conducted by the city.
Since the implementation of the recycling program, the city diverted about 350 tons, or about 700,000 pounds, of material from the landfill, according to the analysis.
Grant County Public Works recently closed a 28-year-old landfill in 2004.
The county is currently waiting on feedback from the Department of Ecology for monitoring purposes, said Goeden.