Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why is the webpage changing? What can I expect?
A: The Solid Waste program at Benton County is going through some changes in the way that it operates, and we want the webpage to reflect that. For example, many of the items that are brought to our periodic household hazardous waste (HHW) events are things that can be disposed of by residents of Benton County year-round. Many are free, and some even hold the potential to put a little money back in your pocket. We want to help you find these waste disposal options, and the new webpage will be geared towards that.
In addition to the new direction, we also want to make sure that navigation is as easy as possible. If there is something on the webpage, but you are having a hard time finding it, then it is not really helping you out. Our hope is to make the webpage streamlined and easy to use. Of course, if you have any suggestions, we would love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us.
Q: Where can I drop off household hazardous waste?
A: Unfortunately, Benton County's household hazardous waste (HHW) facility caught fire in 2010 and has been closed ever since. Benton County is in the process of siting a new facility and will provide more information once that process is completed.
In the meanwhile, we hold HHW collection events for all residents of Benton County a few times a year. These usually occur in the spring and the fall, and the frequency is determined by grant funding from the State of Washington. However, not all waste needs to wait for a collection event! This webpage offers numerous alternatives to the collection event, and many of them are free. Please browse the topics to the left for more information.
Q: What is "hazardous waste"?
A: Hazardous waste is anything that (1) might cause harm or damage if handled incorrectly, such as mercury or certain cleaners; or (2) might leach into the water table if put into our landfills, such as liquid fertilizers, some liquid cleaners, antifreeze, and used oil. The waste collection company that picks up your garbage will be able to tell you if they accept specific items. Some waste is too dangerous for Benton County's HHW collection events*. These include, but are not limited to, ammunition, radioactive materials, and asbestos. Such waste will need specialized handling. You should contact a company who is licensed and trained in their handling. As contractors need to be in compliance with the Washington State Department of Ecology and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, their websites are good places to start.
*Please note that while smoke detectors containing americium-241 are considered safe to dispose of in regular household waste, Benton County's current HHW program does not accept them. Please click here for more information.
Q: I missed the collection event! What can I do now?
A: Many of the wastes collected at the collection events have year-round alternatives that can be utilized. It is one of the goals of this webpage to provide you with information about these alternatives. Please check the links to the left and on the main page for alternate disposal options.
Q: When is the next household hazardous waste (HHW) collection event?
A: For the date of the next HHW collection event, click on the Household Waste tab on the left side of the page.
Q: Where can I recycle paper, plastic, and metal?
A: If you live in Kennewick or Richland, you can recycle at your home through curbside recycling, provided by your waste collection company (Waste Management and the City of Richland, respectively). If your city does not provide curbside recycling, you should ask your city council to consider it. Until then, you can take your recyclables to one of collection bin sites in your city. They are usually in grocery store parking lots or other large, open spaces. The Recycling tab to the left contains maps or directions to most recycling bins in the cities.
Q: I live in the unincorporated county. Why don't I have the same access to recycling that City residents do?
A: If you live in a city, you pay for garbage service through your water bill/sewer bill. The cities contract with local garbage haulers, guaranteeing that all households within the city limits will be signed up for the service. As part of this contract, the waste collection company provides recycling service (either curbside or stationary bins). County residents, however, contract directly with local waste collection companies for garbage service at their discretion. If they do not contract with a waste collection company, however, they are responsible for hauling their waste to the Richland landfill or a transfer station, or disposing of it in other ways (please note that most burning and burying disposal methods are no longer legally or ecologically acceptable forms of disposal). There is also no viable way for the County to bill for garbage service, as there is no County water or sewer system, so broader range contracts akin to the city ones cannot be implemented. Other disposal methods, which can reduce the amount of garbage produced, are described via the links at the left.
Q: I live in Franklin County (including the City of Pasco). Can I utilize Benton County events or facilities?
A: Funding for solid waste is generally provided by two sources: a grant offered by the Washington State Department of Ecology and a tax passed by the local board of county commissioners. Both of these funding sources take into consideration the county in which the program is being implemented. As such, each county runs their own program and their own facilities for the benefit of their residents. If you are a Franklin County resident, please contact Sally McKenzie at 509-545-3514 or visit the Franklin County Solid Waste webpage.