Seattle would have to keep some of their own compost under proposed Manweller legislation


June 7, 2013

CONTACT: Kurt Hammond, Public Information Officer– (360) 786-7794

Seattle would have to keep some of their own compost under proposed Manweller legislation

In an effort to keep the city of Seattle from shipping all of its compost waste to Kittitas County, Rep. Matt Manweller has introduced House Bill 2072. It would require any city or legislative entity mandating local composting to provide infrastructure to keep at least some of their composting material.

A Spokane-based company, PacificClean Environmental, is planning to develop a facility to turn food, yard waste, municipal sewer biosolids and other waste materials from the city of Seattle into compost. A number of sites being considered are in Kittitas County.

“I think we can all agree it is inappropriate for a municipality to mandate citizens compost, but then expect another county to bear the side effects of that policy. If Seattle, or any other city, mandates their citizens compost, then that city should bear some of the costs and externalities that go along with composting.” said Manweller, R-Ellensburg. “I think the citizens of Kittitas are rightly upset that their backyard is being used as a dumping ground by Seattle. I am not against composting, but it should be done in a responsible manner.”

The bill would require any city or legislative entity that mandates local composting to provide infrastructure to accommodate some of the composting material. The bill is modeled after Initiative 937 and would require a city in the first year to accommodate 30 percent of the material, 40 percent of the material by the third year, and 50 percent by the fifth year.

“I also have concerns about the environmental impact of this proposed location. How many trucks are we talking about per day, month or year? And how much diesel fuel are they burning? Any environmental benefits from composting will be lost if we burn a bunch of fossil fuel to ship the material over the mountains. Shipping compost across the state also adds stress to our transportation system and road budgets. All those semi trips will have costs to local governments.” Manweller said. “It is fair to have answers to those questions and to ensure geographic fairness in the composting regulations when cities are shipping their odorous material to other regions.”

The bill would not affect any municipality that allows for voluntary composting. It would also not add any additional regulations to the composting industry or interfere with existing composting facilities that currently purchase compostable material on the open market.

Some of the concerns expressed by constituents include the potential impact the compost would have on groundwater and if trash leaches would be able to get into the local water system through the soil.

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