state solid and hazardous waste plan update photo identifier

State Solid and Hazardous Waste Plan Update

Photo: Curbside recycling truck.
Curbside recycling truck.

Curbside Recycling Access

This indicator tracks the percentage of Washington State residents living in areas that provide access to curbside recycling. Curbside recycling is provided primarily to single family homes, with some service to multi-family homes (apartments, etc.). This indicator should not be interpreted as the percentage of the population that is recycling. This figure is simply the percentage of the population with access to services, and is based on the population of cities and counties with curbside recycling services.

The state's population is 6.8 million and growing. With 924,000 more people in Washington than there were in 2000, it's important to provide residents with convenient options for recycling. Most residents who don't have curbside recycling services do have access to drop box recycling.

Click on the image below for a larger view.

Population with Access to Curbside Recycling Data

Map – Access to Residential Recycling in Washington State

The percentage of residents with access to curbside recycling has varied over time. Overall, the percentage of the population with access to curbside recycling has been steady, between 79.8 and 87.4 percent. Between 2000 and 2002, the percentage increased from 82.0 to 85.3 percent, but decreased in 2003 to 81.5 percent. The percentage then increased steadily from 2003 to 2006, peaking at 84.1 percent, before falling to 79.8 percent in 2007. The percentage has risen steadily every year since 2007 and reached its highest point ever in 2012 at 87.4 percent. Curbside recycling programs tend to occur in densely populated areas.  In recent years, service opportunities for rural county residents have been increasing; however, there are still densely populated areas that lack curbside recycling service. Sparsely populated areas rely more on drop box recycling.

Why should we be concerned about the number of people with access to curbside recycling?

With curbside recycling opportunities available, residents and businesses are likely to recycle more and dispose of less waste, resulting in natural resource and energy savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Residents and businesses in rural or underserved areas would recycle more if they had curbside services available. Recycling materials creates on the order of seven to ten more jobs than disposing of those same materials.

What are the benefits of increasing the amount of curbside recycling opportunities for Washington State residents?

  • Convenience often increases participation.
  • Increased amount of materials diverted from the landfill, and less solid waste in the landfill.
  • Recycling conserves natural resources, saves energy, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
  • More materials diverted from the landfill will increase business for many recyclers, boosting the economy and creating "green jobs."

What Beyond Waste actions are being taken to increase curbside recycling opportunities for Washington residents?

Ecology and other organizations are:

  • Maintaining the 1-800-RECYCLE database about where to recycle in Washington.
  • Providing Coordinated Prevention Grants to local governments.
  • Providing technical assistance to local governments.

For more information, contact Gretchen Newman, 360-407-6097.

This page last updated March 2016