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New waste acceptance rules at county recycling and transfer stations take effect Sept. 14

Summary

New waste acceptance rules at King County recycling and transfer stations are now in effect, and customers are encouraged to take advantage of County services to properly dispose of potentially hazardous waste, such as compressed gas tanks, fluorescent light ballasts, and medical sharps.

Story

King County is enacting new waste acceptance rules at its recycling and transfer stations. Though customers will need to alter the way they dispose of certain potentially hazardous materials, the rule changes are designed to dispose of these materials in an environmentally responsible way, while keeping county recycling and transfer station employees and customers safe.

As of Sept. 14, customers can no longer dispose of their home-generated medical sharps (hypodermic needles) curbside. These must be taken to a sharps drop-box at the Shoreline or Bow Lake recycling and transfer stations, and at the new Factoria Recycling and Transfer Station beginning Oct. 1. Customers can also contact their doctor, health care provider, or local pharmacy about proper sharps disposal.

“In the past, customers were able to dispose of medical sharps with their garbage by placing them into a two-liter plastic bottle,” said Pat McLaughlin, Solid Waste Division (SWD) director. “This has always been the least-preferred disposal option for medical sharps because it poses a risk of puncture to solid waste workers, and both the federal Centers for Disease Control and the federal Environmental Protection Agency no longer support this method, which is what led King County to make this rule change.”

King County also encourages customers to take advantage of secure medicine return locations to properly dispose of their old, unused, or unwanted medications. 

Additional changes to the waste acceptance rule prohibit the disposal of fluorescent light ballasts and compressed gas tanks at County recycling and transfer stations. The exception is the Factoria Recycling and Transfer Station, which has a dedicated Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) service, open Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Customers can also use the Wastemobile traveling HHW disposal service to dispose of these materials. For more information about disposal, including acceptable materials and quantity limits, call the Hazards Line at 206-296-4692, Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., except holidays. Recorded information is available after hours, or by visiting the Wastemobile website.

Businesses previously accustomed to disposing of latex paint at recycling and transfer stations must now evaluate acrylic latexes, sign paints, and other water-based specialty paints for any hazardous properties before disposal. This change is consistent with state regulations.  For more information, visit ecy.wa.gov/programs/hwtr/designation/. For more information about the Waste Acceptance Rule, kingcounty.gov/solidwaste.

Still unsure of how to dispose of your materials? Visit the SWD’s “What do I do with?"app.

King County operates eight transfer stations, two drop-boxes, the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill, and many programs to help customers recycle. Learn more about the Solid Waste Division at kingcounty.gov/solidwaste.