Sustainable Connections Newsletter Breaks It Down

Big news for Bellingham residents! On Monday, February 27, Bellingham City Council unanimously passed a resolution to negotiate their contract with Sanitary Service Company (SSC). The proposed changes would include replacing curb-sorted recycling with a single-stream (or commingled) system and adding FoodPlus! curbside composting to all basic residential service. Benefits to this new system include improving recycling collection efficiency, aligning with the recently enacted state organics legislation, and addressing goals in Bellingham’s Climate Action Plan. Single-family homes, duplexes, triplexes, and 4-plexes would all be affected.

In addition, by moving to single-stream, we will be joining 85% of the state in using this system. It will significantly reduce miles driven by recycling trucks, is expected to reduce L&I claims, and should reduce the amount of litter created by wind-blown recycling. The challenge will be maintaining our current low levels of contamination. Whatcom County residents are great recyclers and have a contamination rate to be proud of – less than 1%. This is compared to single-stream recycling contamination rates ranging from 10 – 25%.

Including FoodPlus! in standard single-family service should lead to reduced methane emissions associated with landfilled organic waste. With 30% of Bellingham’s residential waste consisting of organics, this is an important step forward in local climate action and keeps this valuable compost resource in the local economy. For residents that can reduce the frequency of garbage pick-ups, there could also be savings as organic waste is cheaper to haul than garbage.

Currently, there is no timeline for the proposed changes. Sustainable Connections’ Toward Zero Waste team is happy to help you navigate these changes and keep you informed.

What this could mean for single-family residents:

  • Your three stacking crates will be replaced by one blue lid ToterTM with service every other week.
  • Everyone gets a FoodPlus! toter with service every other week.

What this could mean for residents at complexes with 5 or more units:

  • No change to recycling.
  • FoodPlus! service is still opt-in. Contact us if you want help adding this service or reach out to SSC directly.

What this could mean for businesses:

  • No change to recycling.
  • FoodPlus! service is still opt-in (for now).Contact us if you want help adding this service or reach out to SSC directly.
  • Heads up that under new state law, beginning in 2024, businesses that produce more than 8 cubic yards of organic waste a week will be required to divert it to composting or other organic materials management. The threshold drops to 4 cubic yards in 2025.

Residents can call SSC at 360-734-3490 or email [email protected] to discuss different service options at their home or business. Read more about the City’s decision here and in this FAQs page.


Jenna, Brandi, and Elodie
The Toward Zero Waste Team