- What Belongs In Garbage?
- Where Does Olympia's Garbage Go?
- What Happens At The Landfill?
- Common Myth About Landfills
Whether you're a residential customer with a gray garbage cart, or a commercial customer with a dumpster, drop box, or compactor, your garbage container is for items that CANNOT be recycled, composted, or donated for reuse. Common garbage items might include the following (not a complete list):
Need a printed copy? Download our flyer of Garbage - Common Items.
- Alkaline batteries (The EPA has declared them safe to landfill)
- Broken or non-repairable household items (hairdryer, toaster)
- Cat litter (preferably bagged)
- Flower pots (plastic & ceramic)
- Fluorescent bulbs (tubes)
- Latex paint that has been dried or absorbed (including the can)
- Lids and caps (from bottles, jugs, etc.)
- Motor oil bottles (empty)
- Old rags
- Pet food bags
- Pet waste (preferably bagged)
- Plastics you can’t recycle (clamshells, blister packs, lids, caps)
- Unusable clothing, shoes, ceramics and glassware.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: If you do not see an item listed as a YES for either recycling or organics, and it cannot be recycled elsewhere (plastic bags at grocery stores for example), it should be put in the garbage or taken to Thurston County's HazoHouse if it’s considered hazardous.
For specific items... Check the Extended List for Disposal Options , which details where to put specific items.
Olympia’s garbage travels about 240 miles by truck and train to Roosevelt Regional Landfill in Klickitat County, Washington. Follow the garbage route in the map below.
When garbage is placed in a landfill, it is compacted and covered. This process keeps oxygen from contacting the garbage and creates what is known as an anaerobic condition (without air).
When organic matter, such as yard waste and food waste, is placed in this condition, its slow decay contributes to methane gas production (a greenhouse gas that has been reported by the EPA as more than 20 times stronger than CO2). For this reason, modern landfills are required to have methane gas recovery systems.
Some landfills burn off the methane (a process known as methane flaring) and others capture and convert this methane into energy. This is not the same as a garbage incinerator, which burns garbage for energy. Incineration is used in some regions of the U.S. and around the world.
While landfills serve an important role of safely containing our waste, it is more important to make sure that only products we CANNOT recycle, compost, or reuse are buried in them.
Common Myth About Landfills:
Landfills are large compost piles.
A landfill is not a compost pile that will decompose and shrink significantly over time. Modern landfills are designed to keep the contents from entering and contaminating our ecosystem. Think of them as giant vaults with a purpose of keeping our garbage sealed from the environment.
Archeological digs in landfills have shown the products we place there are preserved for an indefinite period of time (William Rathje, Garbologist).