What does Methow Recycles do?
Methow Recycles is a very small non-profit corporation whose mission is to inspire and facilitate resource conservation through recycling, waste prevention, and materials reuse in the Methow Valley.
We deliver on this mission by operating the only recycling receiving and processing entity in the beautiful Methow Valley. Our Twisp center is open to the public 19 hours per week, and a seasonal drop-off depot in Winthrop. We handle 625 tons of over 20 source separated commodities with the help of about 50 volunteers and 1.5 FTE staff annually.
Thirteen years of engaging our community members about their role in creating and maintaining a successful rural recycling program has resulted in a very knowledgeable constituency. Our community makes up only 20% of the county population but we collect over 40% of the tons collected county-wide of our 20 commodities.
This created the opportunity for the locally-owned commercial collection and hauling company, WasteWise Methow to begin offering residential curbside collection beginning in 2013. This is a rare feat in a region with 7 people per square mile! Methow Recycles employees receive and bale the commingled material then ship it to Waste Management’s SMaRT center in Spokane for processing.
Every few years we host a valley-wide metal drive as an engaging clean-up and fundraising event. Last fall we were pleased to host a very successful tire amnesty event sponsored by Ecology and our county Health Department.
What are some of your goals as a company?
Our biggest goal right now is development of our Education and Outreach program. This will be our 3rd year of sponsoring a valley-wide Earth Day litter pick-up event, and we’ve engaged some high school classes to help us report out to the community on our findings. In the years to come we will be working hard to develop waste prevention and materials re-use programs.
Please list a few of your recent accomplishments.
Responding to the opportunity to handle commingled collection was a game-changing accomplishment for us. We developed a new business model and processes for handling this material, have built a strong relationship with the hauler, and become a stronger organization during the process. The first year was about developing the systems and relationship, this year WasteWise will be driving hard to increase their volume, and we will learn more about the impact this will have on our source-separated line of business.
Glass recycling has long been the bur under the saddle of rural recyclers. Crushing bottles into sand was as expensive as shipping to Seattle, and we were having increasing trouble finding users for it. Last year we gained approval for an agreement with a local gravel pit owner to use our glass in reclamation of his gravel pit. While it’s not recycling, it is an affordable, functional, ethical, and local last use for our area’s glass.
What challenge/s do you face in your industry?
We are always challenged to communicate clearly and meaningfully with our constituents. We have a very diverse but small local population, a significant population of part-time residents, and thousands of visitors. Conveying the right message over the right channel at the right time is a constant challenge.
60% of our income is earned, the other 40% is made up of grants and donations. As a recycling business we are continually looking for ways to increase sales and reduce expenses. As a non-profit we are continually challenged to make the case for support and seek out new funding opportunities. We work hard to maintain a close relationship with our supporters – especially those we no longer see face-to-face because they’ve signed up for curbside pickup. We receive no subsidies from the county or garbage rates, so we have always been supported directly by those who value what we do.
Why did you join the WSRA?
That’s simple – for the industry knowledge and relationships!
What WSRA member benefits do you take part in?
I’ve been to all of the annual conferences in Eastern WA, and find they are a great way to reconnect, re-energize, and tune up my knowledge of the industry. Several of our board members have attended WRED events which have been great. Mostly what I value is the community of professionals and the culture of being available to eachother. I feel that I can call any member in the directory and find someone happy to talk with me. We’ve all worked on many of the same issues, are aware of each other’s organizations and are available to help. Since I don’t get much face to face opportunity, this is huge.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I get to run an organization created and owned by a community of people who want and appreciate it!
Please add any other interesting facts, previous experiences, etc. that you might want to share.
Years ago, before the introduction of commingled collection in the Methow Valley, I attended a WSRA conference. At the Cleanscapes booth I learned about the pre-paid bag system, used at that time in Pioneer Square in Seattle. I brought the idea home to our fledgling entrepreneur recycling collector, Casey Bouchard, who was trying to provide a solution for our many visitors to the valley. He successfully developed a pre-paid BlueBag system involving local retailers and hoteliers. When he later merged his company, Recycling Roundup, with Methow Valley Sanitation Service and became WasteWise, the bags fit right in to their commingled collection offering. The WasteWise commingled offering includes all plastics thanks to the SMaRT center’s ability to accept these in anticipation of the Agylix plastic to oil plant under construction. Although Methow Recycles does not include these plastics in our source-separated materials, we just issued a press release inviting committed self-haulers to take advantage of the BlueBag system for their 3-7 plastics and lettuce boxes. It’s pretty great to be able to offer all plastics in our small little market. Thanks for the idea, Cleanscapes!