Solid-waste violators assessed $1.8 million in fines
Two recycling companies are facing up to $1.8 million in fines following a Snohomish County investigation that has revealed numerous violations of the county's waste-disposal code.
Snohomish County's Solid Waste Division, Sheriff's Office and Prosecuting Attorney's office spent more than a year investigating allegations that United Recycling and Maltby Container and Recycling routinely disposed of waste outside of Snohomish County - a violation of Snohomish County Code, which requires all trash and recycling generated within Snohomish County also be disposed of here.
Potential penalties against United Recycling could be as high as $800,000, while Maltby Container and Recycling, which has two previous violations, could be fined as much as $1 million.
"Snohomish County's rules governing waste disposal help maintain the lowest fees for all of our customers," said Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon. "When violators skirt those laws, it negatively impacts the fees our law-abiding customers pay."
Documents obtained from a Superior Court search warrant on a landfill in Cowlitz County show United Recycling transported 279 tractor-trailer loads of solid waste outside Snohomish County for disposal between June 2011 and June 2012.
Another search warrant served on a landfill in Yakima County found Maltby Container and Recycling transported 342 tractor-trailer loads of solid waste outside Snohomish County between January 2011 and July 2012.
In each case, on average nearly one truckload a day was illegally taken to another landfill.
"Maintaining flow control over solid waste keeps a level playing field for everyone - from residents to local businesses," said Snohomish County Solid Waste Director Matt Zybas. "Waste that's created in this county needs to be disposed of in this county."
Snohomish County's solid-waste disposal facilities are paid for solely by user fees. They do not receive funding from local taxes. Fees are based on the amount of waste generated, so when a company evades the rules, it increases the cost to residents and businesses following county code.
Snohomish County's rules also ensure waste is disposed of safely and in an environmentally responsible manner. Not following county code jeopardizes both.
County Code Chap 7.35, requiring solid waste generated within the county be disposed of within the county, has been in place since the 1980s. Snohomish County has amended its code twice - in 2011 and 2012 - to reduce fees that recycling companies have to pay. Fee reductions were approved as an incentive for compliance.
"We understand the competitive nature of the solid-waste business and continue to lower rates when we can," Reardon said. "But we still have companies that don't want to play fair."
Find more information about Snohomish County's Solid Waste Division online at http://bit.ly/EHjCG.