Upcoming ‘Talking Trash’ forum explores recycling on Vashon

A special community forum sponsored by the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 24, at McMurray Middle School. Speakers and attendees will air a subject that all Islanders have in common and deal with daily — trash.

The current do’s and don’ts of the Vashon recycling system will be clearly presented and explained, and Islanders are welcome to ask questions and share their opinions on the all-important topic.

VMICC’s guests for the forum are Jeff Gaisford, King County Waste Management recycling and environmental services manager; Sharon Aller, who leads the county’s Recycling and Environmental Services Division; Clinton Christine, who supervises Vashon’s Transfer Station; and Eddie Westmoreland of Waste Connections, a private contractor that manages residential and business garbage and recycling services.

Those new to the Island may not know that the landfill has been operated by King County since the 1960s and was upgraded in the mid-1980s.

Recyclables and garbage are now hauled off-Island, with garbage going to the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill while recyclables are taken to separate facilities for processing. At the recycling facilities, plastic, metal and paper are separated and sent off to be made into new products.

Questions about recycling are multitudinous on Vashon: “What can I recycle? Where does it go? What does it cost? What does it become? Why do I see recycling being apparently mingled with regular trash? Why does almost every container have the recycle symbol on it, but the Island can’t or doesn’t recycle some items?”

And Islanders’ biggest question: “Why can’t we recycle like Seattle?”

Vashon residents should bring questions, comments and sample “can I recycle this?” items to the special Feb. 24 forum.

County officials hope to answer Islanders’ questions on current services and learn what residents think and want — both now and in the future — so the county can better serve the Island.

Other services will be discussed as well, including the upcoming Wastemobile visit and other recycling events. In the spring, the county will send a survey to all Island residents to get input on future recycling services.

Lead forum presenter and county employee Gaisford has a team that provides a wide range of services including waste prevention, hazardous waste and green building. Aller is currently the lead on the county’s “Recycle More” campaign, which is working hard to increase residential recycling and the use of reusable and recycled shopping bags throughout the county.

Islanders are asked to jump into the conversation, bring comments and questions, get the latest information and help the county and the Island look to the future of recycling on Vashon.

— Chris Beck serves on the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council executive board.

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