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Point Roberts Garbage Collection Issues and Answers

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Click here to download the Point Roberts Transfer Station Rates and Hours

Click here to download a Sampling of Garbage Rates in the state


Point Roberts Garbage Collection Issues and Answers
           
            Are there other communities in Whatcom County that self-haul?
            What makes Point Roberts different from the rest of Whatcom County?
            Who oversees solid waste collection at the Point?
            What services do state certified collection companies provide?
            What and where is the Solid Waste Collection District?

            Don’t we have a “Universal Service” requirement?
            How many exemptions are there at the Point and how many potential customers?
            What is a G-Certificate and how does a hauler acquire one to be “certified”?

            Who decides the rates or tariff for curbside collection?
            When does neighborhood self-haul of garbage and recycling become regulated collection?
            Is assistance available for self-hauling garbage and recycling?
            Who operates the Johnson Road Transfer Station?
            What are the Canadian rules required to haul garbage out of Pt Roberts?
            Is it possible for a Canadian refuse hauler to provide the service, taking the garbage to a Canadian landfill?


POINT ROBERTS GARBAGE COLLECTION ISSUES AND ANSWERS

UPDATED 7/7/09

Are there other communities in Whatcom County that self-haul?
           
All communities within the County’s collection district presently have curbside service. 

What makes Point Roberts different from the rest of Whatcom County?
           
Providing a high level of solid waste services at the Point is difficult during the best of times.  Especially challenging is the community’s small customer base and remote location.  These challenges are increased by the downturn in recyclable prices and by the recent dispute over provision of curbside recycling pickup. In order to dispose of garbage and recycling, collection companies must drive through British Columbia, a Province of Canada.  Commercial garbage vehicles traveling through Canada to reach Point Roberts and back again are required to go through Customs at two borders each way and follow special rules.

Who oversees solid waste collection at the Point?
            It is important for citizens to know that solid waste collection is a highly regulated service that is overseen by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC).  Commercial garbage collectors/haulers must be certified by that agency.  Whatcom County does not certify collection companies or provide collection services.

What services do state certified collection companies provide?
            See the Whatcom County Code, Chapter 8.10, which covers this in detail.  It can be found on the County’s website.   In this section of the Code, the County Council has established service levels and rate structure principles.   8.10.040 of the Code states “A. Certified haulers shall perform collection and hauling of garbage from single-family residences that request collection service in unincorporated portions of Whatcom County.”
           
While the County Council has established the level of service as listed in Chapter 8.10, it states under Chapter 8.10.080 that “The Whatcom County council, pursuant to RCW 36.58.040, hereby notifies and requests the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission to carry out and implement the policies and programs specified in this chapter and in the plan in coordination with certificated haulers and common carriers through the Commission’s rate setting and oversight authority.”
            In other words, Whatcom County establishes certain service levels within  unincorporated areas of the County, while the WUTC ensures that those services are rendered and the costs properly passed on to the rate payers.

What and where is the Solid Waste Collection District?
            The Whatcom County solid waste recycling and collection district was created  (WCC 8.11) to make solid waste and recycling collection mandatory in Whatcom County.  The recycling and collection district includes all unincorporated areas except the Diablo/Newhalem area of Whatcom County.

Don’t we have a “Universal Service” requirement?
           Whatcom County Code 8.11 establishes Universal (compulsory) collection within the Collection District.  Exemptions to mandatory collection remain in the law for those who wish to self-haul and for part-time residents of Point Roberts.

How many exemptions are there at the Point and how many potential customers?
            There are currently 590 exemptions on file with Whatcom County for Point Roberts.  Actual curbside customers average around 350 per month.  There are 2151 billable water services and more than 1200 units that have neither exemptions nor curbside service (2151 – 590, - 350 = 1211).

What is a G-Certificate and how does a hauler acquire one to be “certified”?
            A G-Certificate is a certificate or license to legally haul garbage (the “G”) on a commercial basis.  It is issued by the WUTC.  The WUTC has a specific application process which includes the submittal of documents, including financials, which are then verified and evaluated before granting a certificate, providing there is a franchise area available.  The applicant must prove they are “fit, willing and able” to provide the service of hauling garbage.  This process may take up to several months upon receipt of a complete application packet.  For more information see the WUTC’s website:  www.wutc.wa.gov.

Who decides the rates or tariff for curbside collection?
            A tariff is a scale of rates or charges.  The collection company files a tariff with the WUTC.  The WUTC reviews and evaluates the tariff to determine whether rates are realistic, based on actual costs of service and a reasonable return on investment.  A comparison of curbside pickup rates is available here.

When does neighborhood self-haul of garbage and recycling become regulated collection?
           
Private carriers of garbage and recycling are not regulated under state law. A person falls under the jurisdiction of the Utilities and Transportation Commission when (1) he or she transports solid waste from residential sources in a vehicle designed or used primarily for the transport of solid waste (i.e., a garbage truck or recycling truck) or (2) transports solid waste from a business beyond when the transport is "...an incidental adjunct to some other established private business." State statute uses compensation for services as a principal criteria for determining when a carrier of solid waste is regulated.These definitions are found in RCW 81.77.010.

Is assistance available for self-hauling garbage and recycling?
            Yes. The Point Roberts "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" program, a function of Point Roberts Emergency Preparedness, is organizing assistance for those physically unable to haul their garbage to the Johnson Road transfer station. Please call 945-PREP for more information.

Who operates the Johnson Road Transfer Station?
            The transfer station at Johnson Road in Point Roberts is County-owned. The station is leased to a private company to provide a place for residents to self-haul their solid waste and to prepare bulk waste for shipping to disposal sites near BellinghamThe station is expected to continue operating as a self-haul garbage and recycling facility while the WUTC processes potential collection applications.  All rates at the station are set by the County Council and are listed in the Unified Fee Schedule.  More information about the transfer station is available here.

What are the Canadian rules required to haul garbage out of Pt Roberts?
           
Commercial haulers must obtain a Customs bond, as well as a commercial carrier bond, obtained from the Canada Border Services Agency.  This entails many documents such as dispatch logs, bills of lading, proof of customs reports, invoices, etc.

Is it possible for a Canadian refuse hauler to provide the service, taking the garbage to a Canadian landfill?
           
Canadian haulers may become certificated, however the CDN government will not allow the Point’s garbage to be disposed of in Canada.  Treaties within the Province of British Columbia prevent importation of any foreign solid waste.  Whatcom County is continuing to work with the Canadian government to find an equitable solution to the garbage situation in Pt. Roberts.

 

Contact Us

Solid Waste Division, Whatcom County Public Works
322 N. Commercial Street,  Suite 220, Bellingham, WA 98225; (360) 676-7695
Email: SolidWaste@co.whatcom.wa.us