Pay As You Throw

Curbside recycling became available for all City residents in December. Leavenworth Recycles thanks the City for making this possible. If you want to recycle many kinds of glass, metal, plastic, and paper, call Waste Management at 662-4591. Waste Management will deliver an extra large wheeled "tote" for free. Then, for about $8 per month, you can have your recyclables collected every other week. This service is not available to businesses. About 120 of the 900 or so single family residences in the City have signed up already.

That's a great start, but Leavenworth Recycles believes the City garbage policy needs to be improved to maximize recycling in a manner consistent with the City's budget as described below.

It has been demonstrated in other communities that the rate of participation in curbside recycling is greatest when combined with a garbage fee structure that charges based on the size of the garbage container. This is referred to as "Pay As You Throw", and it's the way it works in most of Chelan County outside City limits. For example, unlike City residents, County residents have the option to choose a small, medium, large, or extra large garbage tote, and pay less the smaller they choose (about $7, $11, $15, and $19 per month respectively).

View the "One Size Does Not Fit All" posters and mailer to send to Leavenworth mayor...

2-page PDF of Posters
4-page PDF of Mailer to send to Leavenworth Mayor

Under Pay As You Throw, County residents can save enough on their garbage bill when they choose a small or medium tote, that even if they add the optional recycling service to their bill (about $7 extra), the total is less than choosing a larger garbage tote all by itself without the recycling service. In contrast, the City of Leavenworth charges you a flat rate for 2 medium-sized garbage cans (about $22 per month), equivalent to one large tote, regardless of whether you want or need them. We're paying more for our garbage service, and we have fewer options. This doesn't incentivize participation in the curbside recycling program, and it doesn't encourage people to throw away less stuff.

The City recently ordered a new garbage truck with an automated loading arm, and it will arrive in a few months. It's designed to work with a tote. Leavenworth Recycles has learned that the City intends to require all households to use the large size tote. It won't offer you the option to choose a less expensive, medium or small tote. One consequence of this is that our community will likely divert less material into the recycling program. It has been demonstrated in other communities that garbage service with a default large container tends to encourage throwing more stuff away, because for many customers the large container typically has more room than needed to hold their garbage. Many things that can be recycled wind up in that big container and end up at the dump.

Since the City pays the County about $25 per cubic yard when it empties the garbage truck at the landfill, that means the City will miss an opportunity to save money. When factoring in the savings at the dump, the City can still recoup the revenues it budgeted with a more flexible rate structure. For example, offer a larger tote for a higher price and a smaller one for a lower price. This could be revenue neutral, and encourage more recycling and less waste. Now is the time to do this because the City will order about 1000 new totes to go with the new truck. If the City makes this up-front investment, it seems likely that it will be more difficult for us to downsize our totes later.

Now is the time to speak up about a Pay As You Throw system

Contact Mayor Rob Eaton at City of Leavenworth, PO Box 287, Lavenworth, WA 98826 or email at and let him know that when it comes to garbage, bigger is definitely not better.

Based on our discussions with the Department of Ecology, Leavenworth Recycles has learned that approximately $50,000 may be available to the City of Leavenworth to support recycling in 2010. There are some strings attached and this money will only be awarded if it is part of an approved plan. Without a plan soon, it may be forfeited. We believe this money should be used by the city to operate, on a limited basis, a basic recycling drop-off facility like the North Road site. That site was operated by volunteers at Leavenworth Recycles for over 4 years and is now closed. If the city used this money to fence it off and operate it on a limited basis, the North Road site would compliment the new curbside recycling program. For example, it could be used by people who can't afford to pay for the curbside service, by contractors and others who have large volumes of cardboard, and it would also facilitate the development and implementation of a limited recycling program for businesses and tourists in the downtown area. Many Leavenworth businesses are interested in this, and have been for years.

As we have offered in the past, Leavenworth Recycles has financial resources and other support we can contribute to the City to make our little piece of Bavaria a bit more like the real thing.

Links about Pay As You Throw: