King County is considering ways to increase both the supply of and demand for compost to help divert organic material from the landfill. File photo

King County is considering ways to increase both the supply of and demand for compost to help divert organic material from the landfill. File photo

King County wants to boost composting market

In 2018, around one-third of material sent to regional landfill could have been composted.

King County is considering ways to increase both the supply of and demand for compost to help divert organic material from the landfill.

As organic material is broken down, it releases methane gas — a greenhouse gas that’s more than 10 times more warming than carbon dioxide. It can also be processed and used as a biofuel if properly collected. In 2018, around one-third of all material that was sent to the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill near Maple Valley was organics that could have been composted.

King County commissioned a report from the Cascadia Consulting Group that explores ways to increase supply and demand for composting and organics recycling. The report said demand for compost generally matches what’s available, but in order to recycle even more material, producers would need incentives to make more.

In King and Snohomish counties, the report found private processing facilities were permitted to develop 553,000 tons of compost annually. Last year there were 470,000 tons processed, meaning the counties are at 85% capacity. Plastics pollution is also common in the collection stream, which degrades the quality of the final product.

The report noted three main issues the county should consider, including expanding local compost markets while reducing contamination and expanding organic material processing. When processed into compost, the organic materials improve soil health.

Recycling can also capture methane gas. Compost mixed with wood chips can be placed over old sections of landfill, which degrades the gas coming from the waste below. The Cedar Hills landfill currently contracts with Bio Energy to capture and produce methane gas, which is then processed and sold on the market.

Agriculture markets could provide a place to expand demand. In Washington state, less than 5% of total compost ends up at farms, and 81% of farmers hadn’t previously used compost made from food scraps and yard trimmings. The report found the cost of transporting compost to Eastern Washington made it less competitive than using it on King County farmlands.

In order to increase local markets, the county could provide support with transportation and market costs, equipment, delivery and reducing contamination. It could also pay special attention to farmers from immigrant and refugee communities. These could be implemented in a pilot program on county-owned farmland. The current budget has $30,000 set aside to cover costs associated with this program.

King County’s wastewater treatment division is already producing compost on its own, turning human sewage into a product called Loop. The purified product is reduced down into a mush with the consistency of cake before being shipped out to fertilize commercial and forest plots across the state.




In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bellevuereporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bellevuereporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

King County is considering ways to increase both the supply of and demand for compost to help divert organic material from the landfill. File photo

King County is considering ways to increase both the supply of and demand for compost to help divert organic material from the landfill. File photo

More in News

State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Politicians get pay raises, state workers get furloughs

A citizens panel approved the hikes in 2019. Unable to rescind them, lawmakers look to donate their extra earnings.

Construction begins for Downtown Park entrance

The previously delayed entryway project is expected to be finished early 2021

Human remains in West Seattle identified

Bags of body parts were found in a suitcase along a West Seattle beach on June 19.

According to King County’s Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) annual report, Seattle had the highest rate of people using services at 36 percent of the total, followed by 31 percent from South King County, 18 percent from the greater Eastside, and 7 percent from north county including Shoreline. Courtesy image
Drug courts, officer de-escalation programs impacted by MIDD cuts

The fund provides money for mental illness and drug dependency programs across King County.

Summer vehicle travel projected to decrease this year

Traffic this summer will likely be lighter across Washington state than previous… Continue reading

Governor Jay Inslee smiles and laughs Sept. 3, 2019, during a speech at the Lynnwood Link Extension groundbreaking in Lynnwood. A Thurston County judge ruled he exceeded his authority when he vetoed single sentences in the state transportation budget in 2019. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)
Judge invalidates Gov. Inslee’s veto in roads budget

Lawmakers said the governor crossed a constitutional line.

King County cases among younger adults drives increase in COVID-19 numbers

Over half of all new cases are among people ages 20-39

Kirkland man found guilty of promoting prostitution in Eastside sex trafficking ring

Authorities say suspect ran “successful enterprise” for greater half of a decade.

Public and private universities, colleges, technical schools, apprenticeship programs and similar schools and programs may resume general instruction, including in-person classes and lectures, starting Aug. 1. Pictured: The University of Washington-Bothell campus. File photo
Universities and colleges may reopen in fall, governor says

His order requires masks and physical distancing, among other measures, to help prevent infections.

Most Read