Garbage at the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in Maple Valley. FILE PHOTO

Garbage at the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in Maple Valley. FILE PHOTO

King County Councilmember proposes waste-to-energy alternative to Cedar Hills Landfill

Reagan Dunn proposed a long-term pathway to transition before the landfill reaches capacity in 2040.

On July 7, King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn introduced legislation that would establish an advisory committee to research how King County could build a waste-to-energy facility to dispose of solid waste as an alternative to the existing Cedar Hills Landfill.

The committee would be tasked with creating a plan for King County that covers all elements of how to transition seamlessly from a landfill to a waste-to-energy facility.

“King County needs to stop putting our trash in the ground and modernize our waste disposal,” Dunn said. “Over the last decade, the waste-to-energy sector has seen a lot of exciting innovation that makes it the cheapest and most environmentally friendly method available.”

Dunn called the Cedar Hills Landfill a “massive” and “odorous” landfill in need of a cleaner alternative.

King County’s Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan, approved by the council in 2019, included an amendment sponsored by Dunn requiring King County to find a new long-term waste disposal method for when the Cedar Hills Landfill reaches its maximum capacity.

The landfill is anticipated to reach capacity by the year 2040, according to the county.

Dunn would like to encourage King County to move toward a waste-to-energy facility, which converts solid waste to energy, to be used in forms such as electricity.

A 2019 feasibility study commissioned by King County concluded that “waste-to-energy facility disposal will provide a significant financial and environmental benefit to the county” over waste export by rail.

The idea has momentum within the community near the landfill. Residents have long advocated for an alternative waste disposal method.

“Waste-to-energy is the only option that has a minimal impact on the community and the environment, and it solves our waste stream for years and years to come,” said Janet Dobrowolski, who lives next to the landfill. “It also provides electric and steam energy from a renewable resource. It is clean and has no issues with leachate, odors, or water contamination.”

Waste-to-energy is particularly popular in Japan, Scandinavia and Switzerland. Japan burns 74 percent of its municipal waste for energy recovery, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

About 12% of municipal solid waste in the U.S. was converted in WTE facilities in 2018, according to EPA data. But half of all waste was still put in landfills in the same year.

“Burying garbage in a hole was never a good idea, and it’s a mistake we should not repeat,” said Tag Gornall, a Vashon Island resident. “With the modern technology available to us today, we should be ashamed of the possibility that future generations will inherit from us a continuing legacy of burying garbage in holes. We owe it to those future generations to find smarter and greener solutions.”

According to a press release from Dunn’s office, the new committee’s transition plan would include research on the cleanest, safest, and most cost-effective technologies available; discussions of the experiences of other jurisdictions that have implemented waste-to-energy technologies; a list of outstanding questions that need answering and actions that need to be taken; the identification of potential barriers and how they could be overcome; a consideration of how a technological change would be coordinated regionally; and a discussion of the viability of performing a pilot project before fully implementing a new technology.

Members of the committee would include industry, regulatory and environmental experts, who would be appointed by the King County Council. The committee would also be required to engage with community members who live near the Cedar Hills Landfill.

The legislation will be referred to committee at the July 13 meeting of the King County Council.


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.

More in Northwest

Stock photo
Masks to be required at K-12 schools in Washington state

State Department of Health updates guidance for 2021-2022 school year

King County Executive Dow Constantine signs an order July 28 to restart inquests into deaths that involved police officers. COURTESY PHOTO, King County
King County to restart inquests into deaths by police officers

Cases include shootings by Kent, Auburn, Federal Way and Kirkland police

t
King County to hire recruiter to fill vacant Sheriff’s Office jobs

50 deputies have resigned this year after 69 resigned in 2020

File photo
Brief history of rats in the Puget Sound region – and the problem they present

Local exterminator noticed big change in rats over the past 40 years.

File Photo
Face covering recommendation in indoor public spaces expands to 7 more counties

King plus Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Clallam, Jefferson, San Juan and Grays Harbor counties

Elaine Simons, former foster mother of Jesse Sarey, addresses a crowd outside the Maleng Regional Justice Center on Aug. 24, 2020, moments after Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson was formally charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the May 31, 2019, shooting death of 26-year-old Sarey in front of a north Auburn convenience store. File photo
Supreme Court rules officers can be compelled to testify about killings

In a joint lawsuit against King County, the Washington State Supreme Court… Continue reading

Harvey Page
Sheriff’s office issues SILVER alert for missing Shoreline senior citizen

The King County Sheriff’s Office has issued a SILVER alert for 75-year-old… Continue reading

Photo courtesy WSDOT.
Transportation Commission wants your help naming next ferry

Construction of a new, hybrid electric Olympic Class ferry is expected to… Continue reading

Most Read