Plastic bag ban now in effect
Ordinances have started in Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, and unincorporated Thurston County banning plastic carryout bags.
Learn more about these ordinances.
Regulations, plans, and studies
Thurston County must comply with dozens of laws that govern how solid waste is handled in our area. The laws originate from federal and state governments, and from our own local ordinances. The laws are intended to maintain the highest standards for protecting human health and the environment, including groundwater (our source of drinking water), surface water (such as rivers and streams), soil and air.
One common misconception is that Thurston County provides garbage and recycling pickup service, and sets the rates for those services. In reality, Thurston County sets the standards and service-levels that hauling companies must provide in order to do business in our area; however, the companies themselves provide the service and set rates through the Utilities and Transportation Commission. We do, however, operate and set rates for all of the county-owned self-haul locations, such as the garbage drop boxes and the Waste and Recovery Center.
Waste composition studies
Every five years, Thurston County Solid Waste hires a company to sort through the county's garbage it arrives at the Waste and Recovery Center. Sort participants separate the waste into nearly 90 categories, including yard debris, food, textiles, and metals.
The results help Solid Waste educators understand what businesses and residents are throwing away and how to develop programs to help reduce waste. We can also compare data from previous sorts to see how our waste stream has changed over time.
The sorts don’t just look at the county's waste stream in general. They also collect individualized data from the City of Olympia’s waste, and waste generated at Thurston County government facilities.
Green Solutions, an environmental consulting firm, will conduct four waste sorts between October 2013 and July 2014. The sorts are spread out quarterly to capture changes in the waste stream at different times of year.
See data from previous sorts:
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