Recycling right in Kirkland

Waste Management Recycle Corps interns on the job help build recycling muscle memory.

Hannah Scholes. Photo courtesy of Waste Management

Hannah Scholes. Photo courtesy of Waste Management

It takes practice to get good at most things, whether it’s mastering a new exercise routine or learning a new language. After a while, the newness wears off and we build muscle memory. What used to seem complex or awkward becomes second nature.

That’s the challenge with recycling today. When China stopped accepting much of the recycling collected in the United States, a difficult truth emerged: we need to re-learn recycling. The old way of recycling isn’t working; our recycling containers are contaminated with garbage, food and other non-recyclables.

Contamination in the recycling stream is a pressing problem today because recycling standards around the world have changed. It’s more important than ever to put the right materials in the right containers to meet new market requirements and keep our local recycling program strong and healthy. We can do this by focusing our recycling energy on materials that are most likely to end up as new products, like cardboard and paper, tin and aluminum and plastic bottles, tubs and jugs.

To help build this new muscle memory and clean up recycling in Kirkland, Waste Management (WM) is calling in a special cleanup crew — a team of multilingual college students trained by WM’s award-winning recycling education team.

The WM Recycle Corps intern program places students in Kirkland each summer to engage with businesses, multi-family communities and whole neighborhoods and teach them how to waste less and recycle right. WM developed the program to support the company’s year-round recycling outreach work and has deployed interns in Kirkland every summer for the last eight years. The program even won the prestigious Gold Excellence Award — one of the highest honors in the recycling industry — from the Solid Waste Association of North America.

To prepare for their work in Kirkland this summer, the WM interns completed intensive, hands-on job training. With support from WM recycling experts, they are educating people at local events, providing training at businesses and working directly with managers and tenants in our rapidly expanding multi-family housing communities. In fact, WM interns have unique expertise to help property managers create better signage and container placement to take the guesswork and inconvenience out of multi-family recycling.

The WM Recycle Corps interns are also working to break down language barriers that can hinder recycling participation. They’re using their multilingual skills to help make recycling accessible and inclusive for everyone in the Kirkland community.

So, watch for the Waste Management interns this summer. They’re ready to help you build muscle memory, making recycling in Kirkland what it should be — easy and fun.

Hannah Scholes is Waste Management’s recycling education and outreach manager. To see what’s recyclable in Kirkland go to wmnorthwest.com/kirkland/ guidelines/recycling.htm.

More in Opinion

Falcone is the smart choice | Letter

In the race for Kirkland City Council Pos. 6, Amy Falcone is… Continue reading

Falcone is the right choice | Letter

We are writing to recommend Amy Falcone for Kirkland City Council. As… Continue reading

Professionals in a second language | Windows and Mirrors

What is it like to pursue a career in a language that is not your first?

Diverse programs serve diverse communities

Waste Management’s outreach programs make waste reduction and recycling accessible to everyone.

Breaking barriers | Windows and Mirrors

Spending time in the outdoors has helped veteran Naomi Layco heal physically and mentally after serving in the U.S. Navy.

KCLS explores the artificial intelligence frontier

The library system will look at the feasibility of an AI application for library users.

Encouraging innovation | Letter

Earlier this year, I had a kidney transplant and it changed my… Continue reading

My Jewish new year’s resolution | Guest editorial

Rosh Hashanah is not just the first day of the new year. It’s a day for Jews to renew their commitment to God.

Give up now! | Letter

I believe that our forefathers didn’t pass the Second Amendment to our… Continue reading

Where have the ospreys gone? | Letter

For years I have watched a pair of ospreys raise chicks in… Continue reading

That entangled meme | Letter

Thanks to Sherman Peters (Reporter, Sept. 6) readers were fed glib history.… Continue reading

How recycling moved me from the Sunshine State to the Evergreen State | Guest editorial

Even with a background in the waste industry, Morgan Romero realized during her internship that there is always more to learn.