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The State of our garbage dumps

30 Nov

I’ve grown up in the pacific NW and as much as I complain about the envirohippies I love the outdoors and understand that steps need to be taken to protect the environment. However it is a sad fact of life that as americans we generate a lot of junk. From the broken furniture to the old area rugs to that set dumbbells that somehow got left in the rain and is not a pile of rust.

For these reasons we need a place to dispose of all of this refuse. In my area we have 3 bins that are collected on a regular basis. Garbage, recycle, and yard waste. Yard waste is only for organic material and you can’t put lumber scraps in it. Recycle is for the paper, cardboard and recyclable plastics. In our area they don’t allow glass but many areas do. Also in the CITY of Seattle you are allowed to put certain types of recycling in your yard-waste such as pizza boxes (paper or cardboard with food waste is not allowed in the recycle bins). Many people also run compost bins on their own if they garden.

But after you have taken all that out you are left with garbage. We have residential garbage service which allows us to put out 1 can of trash not exceeding 50lbs each Wednesday for the princely sum of about $50 a month. They charge you if the can is over weight, too full or if you add a second can or bags.

Large items that don’t fit in the can must be either taken to the dump yourself or you can schedule a special pick up at a cost.

Luckily since my family is full of people with trucks and trailers we have always made our own runs to the dump so I have never had to use the large item pickup service. However recently I’ve gotten the impression that we are not welcome. In the past 3 months I have gotten the pleasure of using 4 different “dumps” each with their own special flavor and specific rules.

Dump #1 Graham WA, this is my local dump where we take a truck load of stuff they charge you by weight with minimum charge of $27 that includes the first 400lbs. You drive into a large steel building back up to a pile and toss everything in the pile. Workers with heavy equipment then load it all up into conveyors and into trucks for later processing.


Dump #2 Bonney Lake WA, this dump is part of the same garbage service as dump #1 however its set up very different. You back up on an elevated platform with a steel fence behind you. Below you on the other side of the fence is an open top tractor trailer that you throw things into. The design is actually really nice because the trailer is below you and part of the opening of the trailer is actually covered by the platform the customer parks on to allow for empty room in the trailer and for things to slide down. Same pricing as Dump #1

Dump #3 Kirkland WA, this dump is set up similar to dump #2 however instead of you parking on a platform you park level with the grade and there is a pit dug out for the trailers to pull down into and there is a staff member with a backhoe on the upper level moving items around as you toss them over the fence. The only odd thing about this was that the pit had fences on both sides so you actually have 2  customers backing up against each other with only the width of the dumpster trailer between them. When I used this one I didn’t pay for it as I was just along for the ride to help unload but the pricing was based on weight and seemed in line with dump 1 and 2.


Dump #4 Hillsboro Oregon, while prior to this week, I had not been to this one in several years it is the dump I have made the most trips too. This was the  dump that my family used when I was a kid. Back then it was simply a giant pile that you accessed via scales and paid by weight. Now it has been completely redone in the worst design I have ever seen. First as we pulled in we were told that it was a flat rate based on vehicle size. So my Toytota Tacoma with a 6.5ft bed was charged the “pickup truck” rate of $67. They don’t care how high the truck is stacked or how much weight is in it. They apparently also don’t care about length of the bed. When we pulled in we were told to follow the signs for residential refuse. As I reached that area I was convinced I was in the wrong area. A very small area where you back up to dumpster trailers that were set on grade level. This meant everything you unloaded from the truck was being tossed across into the dumpsters rather than the others where the dumpsters are below you. This made it much harder to get rid of things like the random broken pieces of plastic and metal because each item had to individually handled rather than being able to push everything to the ground and then sweep it off the edge. I even commended to the guy running that area that this dump had changed a lot since I had last been there. He told me it had been this way since he started that doesn’t tell me much but it has been about 5yrs since I have used this facility. This is the only dump where I actually didnt get everything out of my truck. When we left my bed was still covered in random odds and ends which required me to take a shop-vac to the truck bed to pick up everything from spent shell casings to fiddly plastic bits.


None of these facilities described their facility online. So while I could have saved myself a lot of time at Dump#4 by brining a push broom I didn’t know I needed to bring tools to the dump so I didn’t.

Feel free to comment with what your dump looks like or how terrible it is.



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