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Solid Waste- FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions about Solid Waste

Do I have to have garbage service?
Yes, Whatcom County requires the transportation and disposal of solid waste by qualified providers.  An exemption is allowed outside of city limits.  You can contact the County Public Works Solid Waste Division at (360) 676-7695 to see if you qualify for the exemption.

Can't I just burn my garbage?
Burning garbage is illegal and can be dangerous.  Breathing smoke from burning garbage can cause or worsen asthma, bronchitis and emphysema and damage children's lungs.  Burning plastic releases many cancer causing agents into the air that you or your neighbors breathe.

Can I burn my yard waste?
Burning yard waste is now illegal if you live in a city with more that 5,000 people.  Breathing smoke from any fire can worsen serious lung conditions.  Other opportunities such as reducing the quantity of waste, shredding, composting and chipping are options.  Transfer stations and the City of Bellingham Clean Green site will also take your yard waste.

What are the requirements for storing garbage?
Garbage must be stored in a rigid, durable container with a tight fitting lid.  This type of container prevents rodents and insects from getting into the garbage and potentially spreading diseases to your neighbors.

My plastic item has the recycling arrows and a number on it. Does that mean it is recyclable?
Technically, all plastics can be recycled. All plastics ARE NOT recycled because there is no economically feasible market for most of them. Currently, there is a very limited, volatile market for margarine tubs, yogurt and cheese containers, foam meat trays and plastic packaging. Sanitary Service Company recently began accepting plastic tubs for curbside recycling.
Only plastic containers with necks smaller than their bodies are really economically feasible to recycle at this time. Whatcom County DOES NOT use the recycling numbers printed on plastics as a guide to recycling. WHY? Because it is far easier for the consumer to identify neck size than to decipher recycling numbers. The numbers printed on plastic products refer to the chemical composition of that plastic. Each type of plastic has specific chemical and physical properties. 99% of small-necked bottles are made by “blow-molding.” Blow-molded plastics contain re-marketable polymers.

Where can I dispose of household hazardous wastes like paints, solvents, cleaners, and gasoline?
The Disposal of Toxics Facility is located at 3505 Airport Drive in Bellingham.  The phone number is (360) 380-4640.  They can also provide information regarding other recycling opportunities.

How do I dispose of waste needles that I generate in my home?
See recommendations for disposal of residential sharps.

I'm new to Whatcom County. Where can I get a crash course in local recycling rules?
Click here to view a summary of local recycling services.