Friday, October 2, 2015

Citizens cash in at woodstove recycling event

Ecology programs designed to improve Central Washington air quality

By Joye Redfield-Wilder, Central Regional communications manager

Autumn was in the air and 30 vehicles were already lined up by the time Ecology’s smoke management team arrived to collect old woodstoves at the Cle Elum solid waste transfer station early Saturday morning on Sept. 26.

Those in line were county residents ready to trade their old stoves or insert for $250 cash. 

Old wood stove collected in Cle Elum
Woodstove trade-in events, also known as wood stove bounties, are one of the ways state funding can be used to reduce wintertime smoke. Woodstoves or inserts built before 1995 emit more wood smoke than newer models.

Home-heating with wood is a major contributor to air pollution in Kittitas County during the winter months, when air pollution monitors have their highest readings. Ecology and local air authorities conduct collections and swap outs across the state where wood smoke is a problem.

“These events give people an opportunity to consider using cleaner heating alternatives, and rewards them for recycling their old wood-burning stoves,” said Jay Carmony, smoke manager in Ecology’s central regional office. “This is just one way we’re working to help communities have cleaner air.” 

A total of 106 old woodstoves were collected at the Cle Elum event. The stoves will be destroyed and the metal recycled. Removing those woodstoves from use will reduce fine particle pollution in the Kittitas Valley by an estimated 7 tons per year. 

The tiny particles found in smoke, known as PM2.5, are inhaled deeply into people's lungs and become lodged in lung tissue, reducing the capacity to breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.

These particles are monitored at two stations mounted on the roof of Hal Holmes Center in Ellensburg. Because of high pollution values recorded over the years, a second monitor has been installed to provide more data to help the community meet Clean Air standards.

“Bounty events give people a little something back, especially since it is illegal to sell, trade, or give away an uncertified woodstove in Washington,” Carmony said. “Partnerships are key. Kittitas County Solid Waste provided us a place to have the event at a facility equipped to send the old stoves on their way to a metal recycler.”

In Kittitas County, Ecology also partners with HopeSource, a non-profit, community action agency. Since 2011, HopeSource has helped Kittitas County residents replace old, uncertified woodstoves with new lower emission, higher efficiency units or ductless heat pumps. More than 300 stoves have been collected or changed out in programs sponsored by Ecology in Kittitas County.

Washington Conservation Corps members help unload and recycle old wood-burning devices that cause air pollution.

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