There's resistance within the Chelan County Commission over a state requirement for businesses to separate garbage for organic material from other waste that typically goes to a land fill.  

Businesses generating at least four cubic yards of organic waste per week must arrange to have separate disposal of the waste starting in January. 

Commissioner Shon Smith told fellow commissioners at their Monday public meeting the process will be too expensive because there are not enough businesses in the county which handle those services. 

"There's only one facility in our county that can handle that," said Smith. "And when you have a lack of competition, it creates a hostage situation where you pay what they tell you to pay so that they can be profitable." 

Image of orgain waste from city of San Diego, CA
Image of orgain waste from city of San Diego, CA

There's already a requirement for businesses generating at least eight cubic yards of organic waste per week to arrange for separate disposal. 

Smith acknowledged the amount is a lot and only affects a small number of businesses but said the requirements would be getting even tighter. 

Beginning in January of 2026, businesses generating at least 96 gallons of organic material waste per week will have to make the special arrangement. 

Commissioners will discuss the state’s requirements for organic waste with Chelan County Public Works Director Eric Pierson Tuesday morning. 

Smith and Pierson were both in attendance of a solid waste council meeting last week in which the state’s requirements were discussed.  

Smith said a concerted effort is needed in the county to fight those requirements. 

“Having a corner on the market and being required by the government to do something to me sure sounds like a monopoly,” Smith said. “And if we’re not ready for it in our area, I think we need to push back as much as we can. And that’s where our legislators need to help out in Olympia to say certain parts of the state just are not ready for this.”   

Currently, Waste Management is the only company that handles disposal of organic waste in most of Chelan County while Zippy Disposal Services handles the process in the Lake Chelan area. 

The state Department of Ecology is enforcing the organic waste disposal requirements. 

The state Legislature passed organics management laws in 2022 and 2024. Those laws are aimed at diverting organic materials away from landfills through prevention, food rescue, and organics management facilities. 

The actions are intended to help Washington achieve its 2030 goal to reduce organic material in the landfill by 75%. 

Currently the western portion of six west side Washington counties – Thurston, Pierce King, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom – are under the organic waste requirements as are most Chelan County and parts of Douglas and Grant counties on the east side of the Cascades. 

They are known as Business Organics Management Areas (BOMA). 

According to the Department of Ecology, a BOMA represents those parts of the state where the agency has determined both qualifying conditions exist: 

  • Businesses have access to year-round curbside food waste and organic materials collection, and these materials are delivered to an organics management facility such as a compost facility or anaerobic digester for processing 
  • Capacity exists at these facilities to accept increased volumes of organic materials from businesses 

Wacky Washington State Laws True or False?

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