Walk past studio on Cole Street on any given day and you may just miss the sandwich board sitting out on the sidewalk advertising E-Cycle Washington. Those who pay more attention to detail may also note that in the display case leading toward the entrance toward the yoga center is a sign advertising The Recyclers, and to 'Call Kurt' because recycling is 'the right thing to do.'
'Kurt' is Kurt Mattioda, who grew up appreciating the work involved and the higher principle behind keeping items from going into landfills, especially if there was another use for them. 'The Recyclers' are better known as Enumclaw Recyclers.
Mattioda recalls how as a child, he accompanied his father to what used to be the Hobart Landfill between Hobart and Ravensdale, now the Marlow Anderson R/C Airfield, looking for items to recycle.
He admits they collected items like bottles and cans, mostly for money at the time, rather than for environmental reasons. Along the way, they recovered perfectly usable items including a pool table and even a lawn mower. "It just needed gas," he said.
According to the King County Department of Natural Resources, the Hobart Landfill occupies about 75 acres of which 35 acres have been used for refuse disposal. Landfill activities began in the 1950s; open burning of refuse occurred until the early 1960s. From then until the 90s (it was closed in 1994), refuse was placed in a controlled manner, including compaction and later, placement of a daily cover.
"It's all full now," Mattioda said. "In my lifetime, we filled up that entire landfill."
Waste management as a whole hasn't gotten a whole lot more efficient since then, he said. Going to 'the dump' these days more often than not involves consumers dumping their waste into bins that need to be hauled elsewhere. Meanwhile, these waste management facilities now allocate storage space specifically for this waste before it's moved to a landfill off site.
Mattioda witnessed this tendency to indiscriminately toss everything into the landfill in his previous occupation as a union carpenter. Recycling was simply a hobby then, he said, recalling how colleagues would find things on job sites and bring them to him because he'd know what to do with them.
What some people saw as junk, Mattioda saw as a business opportunity. Metal prices, in particular non-ferrous metals, were up.
These days, a large part of the income Mattioda is able to generate from recycling comes from metals; he works largely with Binford Metals in Kent, bringing in on a weekly basis large volumes of various metals he's collected from breaking apart the appliances, electronics and other equipment that he comes across.
Much of what comes to Enumclaw Recyclers are things that people find upon clearing out a residence say, when they are moving. There's no time to figure out what to do with it all, so they go to the dump, Mattioda said.
He doesn't fault people for this tendency, however. "Sometimes, any part that's broken might be more trouble to fix than just to toss. ... I believe people want to recycle, but maybe they don't know how or what they can recycle."
It was a learning process for him as well. For example, Mattioda has realized that a typical keyboard -- made largely of plastic -- doesn't produce much material that can be recycled. With washers and dryers, he takes the motors out, effectively keeping the copper out of the shredder pile.
Sorting the metals as much as possible is important since it helps the recycling center process them faster -- and it reaps a higher price for him too, he said.
However, "I'm not a scrapper," he said. "A scrapper is in it solely for the money. I'm operating on a higher set of standards."
I've Got Junk -- What Do I Do?
"Stop here before you go to the dump," Mattioda said. "You don't pay for it like you would at the dump -- it's free."
Enumclaw Recyclers (www.enumclawrecyclers.com) takes the following items for free -- or you can call 253-218-9248 to arrange a pick up:
- Hot water heaters
- Bread machines
- Coffee makers
- Sinks, faucets
- Pots and pans
- Metal windows and doors
- Bed frames
- Vacuum cleaners
- Car and motorcycle batteries
- Vehicles (with a title)
- Tires with wheels*
- Lawn mowers
- Propane tanks
- Lawn furniture
- Anything with a motor
- Cell phones
- Computer hard drives
- Stereos and speakers
- TVs and VCRs
- Electrical cords
- Ink and toner cartridges
*Note that the disposal of refrigerators and tires does incur a fee.
Enumclaw Recyclers is also an official collection center for Washington's E-Cycle program and will accept and properly dispose of the following computer equipment:
- CPUs (Towers)
- Computer Monitors
Click here for more information about E-Cycle Washington.
Presently, Mattioda aims for his pick-up service to be free for residents within Enumclaw city limits. Call for more information about pick-ups in surrounding areas.
Similarly, if you would like to organize a neighborhood recycling drive, Mattioda encourages you to contact him to set this up. "It raises awareness and makes it easy to reach people one at a time," he said. "They just need to carry their stuff to the curb and we'll pick it up."
Editor's Note: King County has designated this week, May 9 to May 13, Spring Cleaning Week. Click to find tips from the county on how to reduce the clutter.