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Tacoma uses $2.5 million to electrify solid waste utilities; expand outreach

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(The Center Square) – The City of Tacoma will spend over $2.5 million in new grant funds to make its solid waste utilities more environmentally friendly and expand community outreach

The Environmental Protection Agency awarded a $2 million grant through its Recycling Education and Outreach Grant Program. The program is part of the $108 billion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and is designed to provide information about materials that are accepted as part of community recycling programs.

The city plans to use the $2 million to expand its community ambassador program and outreach to Tacoma’s minority community.

According to a press release, the city was selected as one of 25 recipients to receive grant funds from the program.

“I am especially pleased to see the expansion of the Community Ambassador Program and look forward to their efforts to further engage and educate our residents on how to increase their recycling efforts and expand our circular economy,” Tacoma City Councilmember John Hines said in a statement.

The city was also recently awarded $560,196 by the Washington state Department of Ecology to replace an aging solid waste management diesel truck. The city will replace the 2009 engine year truck with a battery-electric garbage truck along with the necessary charging infrastructure.

“We need to continue transitioning city vehicles to electric models to further reduce our carbon footprint and lower air pollution in our city,” Tacoma Deputy Mayor Kristina Walker said.

Other environmental initiatives conducted by the solid waste utility is utilizing a new non-utility service aimed at managing improperly disposed waste on city property and in the public right-of-way. This new service is supported by an excise tax on solid waste bills.

The city’s solid waste utility provides services to 56,930 residents and 5,274 commercial customers in city limits. The department’s budget has increased 20% over the last two budgets. In the 2021-2022 budget, the solid waste department was allocated $156.7 million. For the 2023-2024 budget, that increased to $188.2 million.

The city is anticipated to receive $176.5 million in revenue from charges for service in 2023-2024. Services include garbage, recycling, and food/yard waste pickup. In the two years prior, the city generated $151.8 million.

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