Trash and Recycling in Tacoma: What You Should Know

Here in Tacoma, we tend to pride ourselves on being sustainable. Most of us recycle and the city has banned plastic bags. But have you ever wondered where exactly all the trash and recycling in Tacoma goes? Or why cannabis dispensaries don’t have recycling options? 

In an effort to find out – and start a conversation on recycling in dispensaries – our Marketing Marquis, Mish, took a visit to the Tacoma Recovery and Transfer Center.

This blog is the first of three in our short series on sustainability.


worker in protective suit sorting cardboard

What is the Tacoma Recovery and Transfer Center?

The Tacoma Recovery and Transfer Center is a facility that handles solid waste, paper, metal, and battery recycling, and recycling in general. Previously called the Tacoma Landfill, the name was changed to move towards and emphasize sustainability.

The facility is neatly organized with separate bins for different battery types, different plastic types, and so on. 

You can donate old goods at the center (they have a Goodwill donation station). You can dispose of anything that you can’t leave curbside, like hazardous waste or excess garbage. Plus, you’ll find more options for recycling, like recycling styrofoam.

If you have the time, check out any one of the educational workshops provided at the EnviroHouse located at the center.


landfill at sunset

Problems with Trash and Recycling in Tacoma and at Dispensaries

One of the biggest problems with trash and recycling in Tacoma is that our landfill is full. Facility workers have to transport our waste to a landfill 30 miles away in Pierce County, polluting more air and spreading our trash further than the city. 

We have to be careful not to overfill this landfill as well, or our trash will need to be transported even further! This is not the legacy we want to leave behind.

Another big problem is with recycling in particular. While on the whole, Tacoma is exceptionally good at recycling, we could still do much better. Just last year in 2018, China banned the import of most plastic and paper for recycling. If we don’t pay attention to and update our recycling habits, this could have negative repercussions.

Unfortunately for dispensaries, the current i502 laws make it difficult for shops to set up recycling programs. Because of laws like no open packaging allowed in dispensaries, shops can’t set up systems for customers to return product packaging (e.g.: plastic bags, joint tubes) for adequate disposal. As a result, we don’t always know the proper disposal of cannabis product packaging.


Close up hand throwing empty plastic bottle into the recycling

The Way Forward

Fortunately, we’re not completely doomed. There are things we can do at the individual level to help better our practices with trash and recycling in Tacoma and with our cannabis products, like smoking responsibly to eliminate litter waste and properly recycling glass containers.

Learning how to properly dispose of waste and recycling should be the first step. If you’re in doubt about how to dispose of any trash or recycling, look it up! It’s better to be in the know than improperly dispose.

It’s also important to stay current on city regulations concerning our waste. 

Check back next month for the second blog in our sustainability trilogy where we will cover the guidelines of proper disposal of trash and recycling in Tacoma!


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