bulletin board
events calendar
business directory

best friend
news briefs




photo of old car seats in transfer station containerHang around the Twisp transfer station long enough and you'll see a little bit of everything being discarded.

photoA day's deposit at the Twisp transfer station.

Guilty Pleasure
About our garbage . . .

Okanogan County’s Twisp transfer station for garbage drop-off, in use since 1985 when the old Twisp landfill closed, is one of life’s guilty pleasures.

In 2011, Methow Valley residents and part-timers produced 3,324 tons of garbage in the valley that was hauled away from the transfer station for disposal at the county’s landfill in the arid hills south of Okanogan, according to the county’s solid waste manager, Sue Christopher. That’s down from the 3,767 tons hauled way in 2010. “The trend for the Methow has been down for some time. Not a lot,” she added.

The bad economy, plus the heroic efforts of Methow Recycles to reduce the valley’s waste stream, contributed to the reduction in waste products, she said. “The economy plays a role. People don’t buy as much so there isn’t as much throwaway,” said Christopher. Meanwhile Methow Recycles is reclaiming some 650 tons of materials annually, according to executive director Betsy Cushman.

photoJay Humling and his daughter, Mary, of Twisp, lighten their load at the Twisp transfer station.

Granted, peering at the contents thrown into the dumpsters at the transfer station can be disheartening. Leave aside for the moment the depressing reality of what those 3,324 tons represent by way of wasted energy and materials. There’s just something inherently pitiful about seeing once treasured, or essential, ingredients of our lives tossed into the dustbin. On the other hand, honesty should compel us to admit that being able to rid ourselves of the ever-accumulating, messy detritus of modern existence by having someone else assume responsibility for it constitutes a liberating public service.

When it comes to trash, Will Conley, the Twisp transfer station operator for the last five years, has seen it all. “Nothing really seems strange any more,” he says of the things that people bring to his weigh station. “You see a little bit of everything.”

What he doesn’t want to see - so pay attention - is your old barbecue with its burned charcoal briquettes. These have caused fires in the trash bins, he says. Nor does he want to see ashes of any kind unless you’ve hosed them down so any lingering hot spots are doused. Don’t bring him old dynamite or bullets, asbestos, the accoutrements of your meth lab or, should you be in the medical self-help business, biomedical wastes of any kind.

photoDon Davidson, owner of Methow Valley Sanitation Services, working the metal disposal bin at the Twisp transfer station.

Moreover, Conley does not want to see cans with remnants of your old paint, pool or hot tub or household chemicals, antifreeze, motor oil sludge and other hazardous materials unless it’s the second or fourth Thursday of each month, and then only from noon until 3 p.m. That’s because a certified staffer trained to handle hazardous materials must be present when you deliver them to the transfer station.

“Just be aware of what’s in your load,” Conley urged.

Asbestos can only be brought directly to the Okanogan landfill, said Christopher. Biomedical wastes are handled independently by hospitals and clinics and hauled out of the county for disposal, she added, as are hazardous wastes that cannot be recycled. However, needles used by diabetics or by ranchers who inject their animals can be disposed of in a special box for syringes at the transfer station, she said. But they must first be encased inside a coffee can or something similar that will prevent employee contact with the needles.

You can bring all manner of metals to the transfer station, and people do – fencing, farm machinery, appliances. But if it’s a refrigerator, a certified staffer must remove the refrigerant when it arrives at the landfill, said Christopher. In the last couple of years, though, more people have been recycling their own metals because the price of scrap metal has risen, she said.

Trash is much on the mind of Don Davidson, owner of Methow Valley Sanitation for the last 14 years. His trucks drop their loads at the transfer station five days a week. “Most people stop thinking about it at the end of their driveway,” he says of the garbage in the cans his company empties into his trucks every week. But, as he notes, our trash doesn’t just vanish when his trucks haul it away.

Jay Humling of Twisp was persuaded to pause from tossing trash into the bins long enough to give Grist his considered opinion of the transfer station: Said he:  “I think it’s wonderful.”


Twisp Transfer Station
Cost: Minimum $11.40 up to 290 pounds. $74 to dispose of a ton of garbage.   Hours: Tue-Fri 10-4, Sat 9-4 (4/1-9/30) | Tue & Th 10-4, Sat 9-4 (10/1-3/31). Closed the Saturday of any holiday weekend. Phone: 997-2025.

Have a comment? >>