Madeleine Hagen reports.

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KENNEWICK, Wash. — In November of 2022, Waste Management Northwest announced they would invest $56 million in regional recycling throughout Washington state. The Spokane Materials and Recycling Technology Center, is one of those locations.

“Just keeping our communities green and clean,” Tami Haggerty with the company said WM is Washington’s biggest processor of curbside recyclables, “plastic bottles, paper, cardboard, cans,” she went on.

That’s what Kennewick residents throw into their little blue bins everyday, waiting to be picked up by the big, green, Waste Management trucks.

Then, they end up at the SMaRT Center in Spokane.

“And those all get sorted and processed and bailed- so if you’ve got a water bottle it’s going to be bailed with other water bottles, and those are going to get sold to mills, and those mills are going to make it into new products. So if it’s a water bottle maybe it’s getting made into a fleece sweater or a park bench,” Tami explained.

That’s where $15 million of the $56 million is going.

Haggerty said the facility was built 10 years ago, and since then, a lot of updates have been made in recycling technology.

“So for communities this means reducing landfill waste, more recyclables made into new products, it increases our capacity and it also confirms WM’s long standing commitment to helping communities and businesses reach their bold sustainability goals,” she said.

The investment from WM will allow cutting edge technology to break down recyclables to meet stringent quality guidelines, that way manufacturers can give our trash a second life.

Haggerty said with more companies turning toward sustainable products and options, Waste Management wants to be on the forefront of this mission.

“So looking ahead, we expect the demand for these products made from recycled materials, to rise so we’re just going to be continuing on the cutting edge of new technology and just solidifying our focus on sustainability,” Tami said.

The updates at the SMaRT Center will begin soon and should be done by 2024.

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