Islands' Sounder


Success, disappointment with Lopez solid waste | Guest column

May 2, 2013 · 1:39 PM



The first quarter report by the Lopez Solid Waste Disposal District highlights some clear successes, a few disappointments, and much work in progress.

Successes include: a flawless operational system that transferred 75 tons of garbage to the Skagit Transfer Station and significantly-expanded recycling options. Materials recycled:  7.5 tons of cardboard, 15.5 tons of mixed paper, 2.5 tons of plastic, 17.5 tons of glass, 3.5 tons of steel and one quarter ton of aluminum for a total of 46.75 tons of self-separated recyclables which receive a higher dollar value than commingled recyclables.

Other successes include the custom web-based accounting and interactive volunteer scheduling system. More than 75 volunteers are working at the recycle center and the Take-It-Or-Leave-It.

The disappointments primarily involve revenue.

“By keeping a tight rein on costs we were able to offset most of the shortfall which came as a result of lower than predicted first quarter garbage revenue,” according to LSWDD Treasurer Bruce Creps.  “We hope people will produce as little garbage as they can, and will bring ALL of it to our beloved, local dump.”

Garbage fees account for 50 percent of revenue as shown in the district’s 2013 budget (excluding capital revenue). The remaining revenue comes from recyclables (10 percent), excise tax (13 percent), and the property tax levy (27 percent).

“We may simply be achieving success earlier than we could have imagined,” says LSWDD Board member Sandy Bishop. “Lopezians are taking the goal of reducing waste to heart and are producing less and recycling more. It’s a classic conundrum. As an island we embrace the concept of ‘zero waste,’ but the $8/can garbage disposal fees pays the bills.”

“We know there’s some Lopez garbage going off-island,” says LSWDD Board member, Dan Post. “We need people to bring their garbage home to the Lopez Dump!”

Going into the second quarter, LSWDD will continue to closely monitor the revenue picture and refine the solid waste and recycling operation as a whole. On May 15 the Dump will shift to a summer schedule, extending the opening hours by two hours – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. LSWDD also plans a meeting soon with island contractors to explore how the facility can better serve their disposal needs. Other works in progress include reorganizing the Take-It-Or-Leave-It to include rummage tables under construction by the Lopez School shop students, tweaking the recycling center to accommodate summer crowds, and installing permanent signage around the site.

“We’re still in our infancy stage of this great experiment,” says LSWDD Chair Page Read. “Obviously we’re not satisfied with our revenue picture. The good news is that we’re operating smoothly and efficiently, taking care of the people’s business in the responsible way they expected. I love working at the site and hearing the enthusiasm and pride that people express about the Dump. We will meet the challenges as they come our way.”

More details about LSWDD operations during January-March 2013 can be found online in the LSWDD quarterly report, at www.lopezsolidwaste.org.

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