Washington State Department of Ecology - March 28, 2013

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New state rules encourage innovation for managing and processing green waste

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has revised rules for managing organic wastes – also known as “green waste.” 

Changes to the rules affect methods for transforming this organic material into useable or marketable materials.

Green waste makes up 27 percent of the solid waste put into landfills.  Disposal of green waste causes more methane and liquid waste at the landfills. Methane is a greenhouse gas emission and is considered a hazardous substance. 

These methods include technologies such as compost facilities, composting with worms (using vermicomposters), and anaerobic digesters that process manure and solid wastes to make energy.

Green waste includes discarded food, yard debris, and agricultural waste. 

Ecology is responsible for setting standards for solid waste management in Washington. Local government health agencies implement state standards through local ordinances and permits.

“Processing and treating green waste makes products such as compost, soil conditioners and energy through methods such as composting and anaerobic digestion,” said Laurie Davies, Ecology manager of the Waste 2 Resources Program.

“These processes preserve valuable soil nutrients and organic matter that can be used in lawns and gardens, to enhance crop production, or aid in restoration projects that protect habitat and wildlife. At the same time, these management approaches reduce the amount of organic materials that are disposed in landfills or are burned,” Davies added.

Managing green waste is a dynamic industry with new technologies and processes emerging all the time.  Public demand to process growing amounts of more diverse types of green waste is putting increased pressure on the capacity of the state’s solid waste management system. 

The new rules provide exemptions to permitting for some activities, including composting, vermicomposting, anaerobic digesting and small scale organic waste conversion technologies. The aim is to provide regulators with flexibility to encourage and support new technologies. Recycling green waste is a growing industry that creates Washington state green jobs. 

The rules require facilities to improve planning and operations related to odor control, and establish limits on the amount of contaminants in finished products.

The new rules will become effective April 25, 2013.  The rules will be phased in, allowing local health departments to adopt them and to give existing facilities time to meet the new standards.  

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Media Contacts

Kathy Davis, media relations, 360-407-6149, kathy.davis@ecy.wa.gov

Laurie Davies, Waste 2 Resources Program, 360-407-6105, laurie.davies@ecy.wa.gov

For more information:

Rule Development Chapter 173-350 (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/swfa/rules/rule350.html)

Organic Materials Management (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/swfa/organics/index.html)

Ecology Rulemaking/Solid Waste Handling Standards (www.ecy.wa.gov/laws-rules/wac173350/1006.html)

Ecology's social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)