King County is considering ways to increase both the supply of and demand for compost to help divert organic material from the landfill. File photo

King County is considering ways to increase both the supply of and demand for compost to help divert organic material from the landfill. File photo

King County wants to boost composting market

In 2018, around one-third of material sent to regional landfill could have been composted.

King County is considering ways to increase both the supply of and demand for compost to help divert organic material from the landfill.

As organic material is broken down, it releases methane gas — a greenhouse gas that’s more than 10 times more warming than carbon dioxide. It can also be processed and used as a biofuel if properly collected. In 2018, around one-third of all material that was sent to the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill near Maple Valley was organics that could have been composted.

King County commissioned a report from the Cascadia Consulting Group that explores ways to increase supply and demand for composting and organics recycling. The report said demand for compost generally matches what’s available, but in order to recycle even more material, producers would need incentives to make more.

In King and Snohomish counties, the report found private processing facilities were permitted to develop 553,000 tons of compost annually. Last year there were 470,000 tons processed, meaning the counties are at 85% capacity. Plastics pollution is also common in the collection stream, which degrades the quality of the final product.

The report noted three main issues the county should consider, including expanding local compost markets while reducing contamination and expanding organic material processing. When processed into compost, the organic materials improve soil health.

Recycling can also capture methane gas. Compost mixed with wood chips can be placed over old sections of landfill, which degrades the gas coming from the waste below. The Cedar Hills landfill currently contracts with Bio Energy to capture and produce methane gas, which is then processed and sold on the market.

Agriculture markets could provide a place to expand demand. In Washington state, less than 5% of total compost ends up at farms, and 81% of farmers hadn’t previously used compost made from food scraps and yard trimmings. The report found the cost of transporting compost to Eastern Washington made it less competitive than using it on King County farmlands.

In order to increase local markets, the county could provide support with transportation and market costs, equipment, delivery and reducing contamination. It could also pay special attention to farmers from immigrant and refugee communities. These could be implemented in a pilot program on county-owned farmland. The current budget has $30,000 set aside to cover costs associated with this program.

King County’s wastewater treatment division is already producing compost on its own, turning human sewage into a product called Loop. The purified product is reduced down into a mush with the consistency of cake before being shipped out to fertilize commercial and forest plots across the state.

King County is considering ways to increase both the supply of and demand for compost to help divert organic material from the landfill. File photo

King County is considering ways to increase both the supply of and demand for compost to help divert organic material from the landfill. File photo

More in News

Balducci runs against Hirt for District 6 county council seat

The former Bellevue mayor is essentially running unopposed.

Kirkland council opposes proposed motor fee tax measure

Initiative 976 will be voted on by the public in November.

Kirkland will house Woodinville inmates

Woodinville approved the contract in September.

Paul Brown retires Oct. 18. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
Brown retires from Sound Publishing

He has worked at Sound Publishing for almost 20 years in various positions.

Kirkland seeks volunteers to serve on community safety advisory group

Group will advise council on potential November 2020 ballot measure for fire and emergency medical services.

Kirkland Police Department celebrates promotions, service and new officers

Chief Cherie Harris swears in six new patrol officers and three new corrections officers.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Kim Schrier held a roundtable at the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank on Oct. 3 to talk about the Trump administration’s plan to further change SNAP food benefits rules and reduce the number of people using them. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Murray, Schrier vow to fight White House restrictions on food stamps

Senator and Representative met Oct. 3 at Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank.

Coming down to the wire: Student MMR vaccine deadline approaches

Students have limited time to show compliance with new MMR vaccination law before being barred from school.

Most Read