State of the Solid Waste System updates for Thurston County

Litter collection services expanding and am overall decrease in waste processing disposal


Solid Waste Division Manager Jeff Bickford met with Thurston’s Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) for the state of the Solid Waste System update, yesterday, May 14.

Bickford briefed the board on solid waste facilities operations, and planning and programming efforts.

Disposal facilities

Thurston County owns and operates three solid waste disposal facilities— the Waste and Recovery Center (WARC) in Lacey and two drop-box facilities in Rainier and Rochester.

Last year, WARC recorded a -3.93% annual change in inbound waste processed. The average in 2022 was 21,104 and 20,274 in 2023.

Bickford explained some factors that might have affected the decrease in processed waste.

“One…[during] the pandemic, people were working more at home, generating more waste because they're doing more remodeling, and then… people getting back not quite producing as much economics might have something to do with that as well,” said Bickford.

The facilities serve Thurston County businesses and residents, providing services in recycling, disposing of solid and hazardous waste, and dropping off organics for composting.

Solid waste management is considered an essential county function, according to the agenda document.

The Solid Waste Division collects fees from customers delivering waste to the sites, operating HazoHouse, monitoring and maintaining the closed landfill, administering the solid waste operations, maintenance, transport, and disposal contract, and providing planning, administrative support, and management for the division.

Litter program

Bickford highlighted the litter program which became part of the Solid Waste Division in 2023.

For 2023 alone, the program picked up approximately 275,000 pounds of trash.

Currently, the program has 1 full-time and 1 seasonal employee and is set to add a recently approved position of a regular full-time laborer.

The Department of Ecology gave the program a $170,000 grant for the 2023-2025 biennium.

The grant received from the last biennium was used for a litter collection truck.


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  • Duffish

    Litter collection and disposal efforts are commendable, what is not commendable is where waste ends up. The County needs to develop innovative technologies to convert waste into energy or a "closed loop" system, not bury it in the ground.

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