New Yakima recycling program could lower garbage costs - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

New Yakima recycling program could lower garbage costs

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YAKIMA, WA - If you're a Yakima local, have you ever thought about why you never see many recycling bins on trash day?

Recycling is currently not required of the City of Yakima, but that could be changing.

The city council is considering putting in place a mandatory curbside recycling program within the next few years.

Mikal Heintz, Program Coordinator for the Terrace Heights Landfill, says this new program is now extremely necessary.

"Every single day at the Terrace Heights Landfill, we take in about 1,930,000 pounds of garbage. and we estimate about 50% of that could have been recycled if people had taken the time to sort it out at home, at work, or even schools," she explains.

Although recycling seems easy enough to implement, Heintz says it will most likely take a while to get running.

"When you have it, a city of 85,000 people, and there's different language barriers in different areas, and making sure you have the staff and the resources to be able to get in and teach them...especially for someone who's never been exposed to recycling, that's going to be a bit of a learning curve."

Many residents are also worried this will hike up their garbage bill.

"A lot of people move here from other areas, and they'll tell people, 'Oh, well, we had it free where I lived,' and that's just not true," Heintz said. "It's embedded in their rates somehow, it's in their tipping fee, their property taxes, or maybe it's subsidized through their garbage."

Heintz says the Yakima area actually has one of the lowest tipping rates in the state.

"If we could get people to recycle more, we would have less getting buried in the landfill every day, and that could extend the life of the landfill, which could, in turn, keep our garbage rates cheaper."

Garbage rates did increase over the weekend by just over a dollar to begin saving for the program; but if it's successful, we could have overall lower costs and a more environmentally-friendly city by 2020.