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Bellingham
Monday, October 19, 2020

From clean green to spring clean

Illustration by Shannon DeLurio

The City of Bellingham is offering a new way for local residents to dispose of tree branches and wood debris.

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In 2016, Spring Clean replaced the Clean Green program Bellingham had used since 1989.

Sanitary Service Company, who has a contract with the City of Bellingham, will collect waste and send the different types of debris off to certain locations. Items able to be reused will go to Recycling & Disposal Services, Inc.

Any food waste will go to Green Earth Technology and recyclables will go to Northwest Recycling, Inc.

“Anything that comes in we are looking for a second use,” Pete Edwards, general manager of Recycling & Disposal Services said.

Edwards said the Clean Green program was costing the City of Bellingham too much money to continue, so they started the new program.

“We were finding that our cost per pound of disposal was increasing exponentially,” Eric Johnston, assistant director for Bellingham’s public works department, said. “Our ability to charge a fee to pay for that service could not keep up.”

“[Clean Green was] originally created to collect and reuse Bellingham’s organic material,” Johnston said. “As that program developed over twenty years, it became the victim of its own success.”

In 2004, Bellingham Public Works started to charge a fee of $2 for the Clean Green service. The city had to raise the fee to $10 in 2014, according to Bellingham City Council Agenda Bill Number 21100.

“Every time the fee was raised and the way we were charging that fee, people would bring in more material and pay the flat rate cost,” Johnston said. “It did not meet its state of purpose.”

Bellingham Sanitary Service Company started shipping material down to Skagit County in order to keep the fee low for people in Bellingham, Johnston said.

From 2005-2015, Bellingham continually lost money on the Clean Green program. On average, Bellingham lost $188,037 during this span, according to the City of Bellingham public works department memorandum.

By doing a collection of yard waste just twice a year, Bellingham would only have to pay $10,000, according to the memorandum.

Thus, the city of Bellingham has saved money by cutting down on yard waste pickup and switching to the Spring Clean program.

“Currently we are spending about $40,000 which is down from $200,000 to pay for Clean Green services,” Johnston said.

Bellingham will also provide yard waste cleanup after major storm events.

“The city is committed to providing more opportunities to do major large-scale storm events,” Johnston said. “It is part of our obligation as a solid waste function and we will continue to do that.”

The Spring Clean program will be held from April 1-8 at Cowden Gravel on 4000 Hannegan Road in Bellingham.

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