In the Spotlight

Sunshine Disposal and Recycling

Established four generations ago by the Torre family, Royal Disposal and Recycling (Seattle, WA) was started with a horse and wagon by two family members (names?) who made the decision to begin trash collecting services because there was a need for it in their area and they stepped up to the challenge when many others were not interested. The company exploded in the 1960s when they were awarded the contract to collect trash for the City of Seattle. Because this opportunity provided the chance for rapid growth, Sunshine Disposal expanded from a fleet of a few trucks to 30 and continued to grow from there to the company they are today. Currently, they have 100 pieces of equipment and between 50 to 60 of those are garbage trucks. Dealing with solid waste, recyclables and septic services, Sunshine Disposal employs a staff of 84, and serves the areas of Northeastern Washington and North Idaho, a total population of 750,000 to 1 million people who live in fairly rural areas. The population of the region’s urban core is about 500,000. Not only do they provide collections services, but they also offer other services such as recyclable preparation and processing plants, and Sunshine Disposal also owns a transfer station (name of transfer station?) in Spokane County.

Food Waste Recycling

Over the past few years, Sunshine Disposal, there have been two challenges in particular that have made the company evolve. The biggest challenge has been the 25 percent drop off in the disposal and recycling of construction materials, a big part of the company’s business. As a result, Sunshine Disposal implemented a food waste recycling program in Spokane County in May 2010 to offset some of the income they are losing. Says full name and title, “As we were seeing underuse of equipment (what kind?)because of the economy, we have looked for opportunities to broaden our service offerings. One of the first things we wanted to do was food waste recycling (because?).” Name explains that it was a long process that involved working with the processor to make sure they would be capable of composting the material, developing an entire educational program and procuring the proper equipment since that particular recycling stream is different than the usual recyclables. “Not only do you have to prepare watertight containers for the inevitable material that will run out of the food waste, you also have to secure customers into a venture that is new to the marketplace.” Since this type of service is different than the ones are more familiar in the community, he says that has taken a lot of ongoing education and training(such as ?)in order to get people to buy into it. “It was a slow process trying to introduce the new service and I think a lot of that has to do with the economy. People are very conservative about making any changes due to some of the uncertainty.”

However, according to name? the process is full circle. Sunshine Disposal hauls organic compostables to a processor and then hauls back the finished registered, organic compost and distributes it into the marketplace. He explains it is a two-part system where Sunshine Disposal collects food waste in their community and then takes it to a processor. Once they bring back the processed material that’s been composted, the company sells the compost into the landscaping marketplace through wholesalers, retailers and directly to some landscaping companies. Name? says this is the one thing that he is most proud of that the company has implemented. “We’re trying to be as efficient as possible—our trucks are full on the way to the facility with products to be processed and it comes back full with materials that have been processed and is usable in the community.”

Curbside Recycling

Another challenge thatName?mentions is a decrease in garbage pickup subscriptions and services. Since garbage service is voluntary outside of contracted areas, as the economy worsens, Sunshine Disposal has experienced some cancellations in service and a little bit of negative growth. As a result, people end of getting rid of their trash by throwing it on the roadside, bringing it into town and throwing it into a dumpster behind a business, throwing it out in the woods or illegally burning it. In order to combat this,Name?stresses, “Some of the things we try to do to get those services back is to advertise and we have added programs such as curbside recycling and organics collections to a portion of our communities that haven’t had that before. The goal of these programs is to not only increase diversion, but also to get people to at least lower their garbage subscription level without cutting it out completely, as well as save money by participating in the recycling program.” He also points out that in some of their communities, Sunshine Disposal holds an annual or semi-annual cleanup at a designated location where people can dispose of their waste at no cost. “In a bad economy, some people may go to the lowest level of garbage service they can possibly have, knowing that they have a couple of times per year when they can get rid of the rest of the trash at these events,” says Name?

Implementing their first curbside recycling program in 1995, Sunshine Disposal recently created one in western Spokane County that began collection last month. “We live in a state that has a regulated garbage collection system and the county has the ability to pass a service level ordinance in which all of the people within a certain geographic level will get curbside recycling when it is implemented,” saysName?“It took us 12 months to go through the entire process. It included working with the county commissioners and our local processors to make sure that when it is implemented in the entire area it is consistent.” Once Sunshine Disposal had worked through the service level ordinance, they worked on equipment procurement and delivered the necessary material to residents by the first week of October. Now in place, Name?says that if a resident subscribes to garbage service, they receive curbside recycling as well.

Community Outreach and Safety

In addition to curbside recycling and food waste programs, Sunshine Disposal does quite a bit of community outreach. Every September, ValleyFest is held in?? where the company will bring trucks out for the community look at and explore, as well as set up a booth with educational material explaining their programs. They also visit and provide educational discussions and donations to area schools. “When we rolled out the food waste recycling program in the Central Valley School District, one of the schools held a competition to develop a rap song about it. It was great. The local news did a morning segment on it,” says Name?Additionally, East Valley High School in Spokane Valley has a program called??In September, they created a little garden in order to teach the students about plant growth and Sunshine Disposal donated some compost and finished product for them to use.

Safety is also a very important part of Sunshine Disposal. The company’s Safety Coordination Officer and General Manager, Pat McHenry runs the programs in all of their locations. Not only does the company hold scheduled safety meetings, they also have implemented protective equipment requirements(such as?)and offer ongoing training for the employees (such as?).

(Expand a little more on the safety program and its training.)

Investing in Urea

Name?points out that keeping up with changing government regulations has always been a challenge for Sunshine Disposal. Some of the rules to convert to alternative fuels make it limited to able to put in the infrastructure for CNG or LNG in their area. Although urban and metro areas are able to convert over and get the appropriate fuel and pricing, Sunshine Disposal still has to use diesel because of the vicinity to the urban core. “As you move more rural, the barriers to be able to have infrastructure to get to CNG and LNG are tougher. The regulations in a rural setting are harder to just change completely and meet the emission standards and get a fuel place and price,” saysName?

As a result and to test out a fuel system other than CNG or LNG, Sunshine Disposal recently purchased a truck with a urea motor to run in Spokane County. Because the 2012 emissions standard has allowed the company to get back to maintaining new equipment purchasing and procuring new equipment, they made the conscious decision to purchase this type of garbage truck. According toName?, not only is it working out well, but the refuel rate is low enough that the company can handle it at their facilities. “We are pleasantly surprised with the results of our first urea truck. At first we were concerned about the cost of urea and whether or not it was going to be available at a fuel stop or if could bring it back to our facility. However, at truck stops, they offer 2 ½ gallon jugs so we bought a 55-gallon drum to keep at our facility and refuel from that,” saysName?Now, the truck gets about 100 miles to one gallon of urea so it does not have to be filled every day. There are currently plans in place to purchase another two in the future(by what time?).

Continuing to Grow

With a goal to continue growing and keep changing with the industry, Sunshine Disposal aims to expand from being just a garbage company to handle processing, composting and recyclables as well. Says Name?, “A good portion of our waste stream is recyclable and as time goes on the percentage of that material continues to climb so keeping up with that trend in our industry is important.”

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