Skip to main content

Thurston County, Washington

Public Works

Photo of recycling bin


Keep costs down and resources out of the landfill by helping employees and customers recycle as much as possible. The goal of our programs is to make waste reduction easier and more convenient for you to see results. Our resources are free!

Recycling Made Easy

Take action to ensure your workplace is recycling right. With our 6-step process, you can start a recycling program or evaluate the one you already have. As you walk through your building, note the simple changes you can do and then make the updates.

Place recycling and garbage containers next to each other in high trafficked areas such as breakrooms, hallways, workrooms, and lobbies. People are more likely to recycle if it is convenient. 

All businesses with recycling service in Thurston County (excluding City of Olympia customers) can recycle the materials found on the LeMay recycling guide. Check annually as recyclable materials periodically change. Scroll to the bottom of the page and use the Where Do I Take My? tool to search disposal options for specific materials. Contact us with any questions.  

Keep bin colors and styles consistent throughout the building. Typically, use black is for trash, blue for recycling, and green for food waste (compost). Have a sign on and above each bin as a quick reminder on how to properly sort of the waste. We can provide signs and labels!  

Ensure employees know how to use the recycling program by including recycling information in team emails or at a meeting. If the recycling guide changes, let everyone know of these updates.  

Communicate directly with janitorial services and review the contract. Some negotiations may be needed to have janitorial service empty additional bins or materials. Proper collection of recyclables is essential to the success of your recycling program.

The best solution is often eliminating the waste from the start by using alternative products. For example, provide reusable cups in the break room and set the printer’s default on double-sided. There are also options to donate unwanted items and even prevent food waste by participating in our Thurston Food Rescue Program.

Request On-site Assistance

We are here to help you have a successful recycling program! Our free programs include:

  • Waste evaluations and recommendations
  • Presentations on waste reduction, recycling, and food and yard waste collection
  • Educational materials such as posters and labels
  • Right-size your garbage/recycling service levels

Complete our Request Assistance Form to get started.

Commercial Food & Yard Waste

Adding food and yard waste collection service is a cost-effective, easy way to manage organic waste. Contact your service provider to set up the service. Then request educational materials from us such as signs or bin labels. 


In Thurston County, businesses can put the same materials into the food and yard waste bins as residents. You can put into your bin: 

For a complete list, view LeMay's guide.

  • Kitchen and plate food scraps 
  • Food-soiled paper (paper napkins, paper towel, coffee filters, tea bags)
  • Yard waste 
  • Untreated wood 

​Put an end to wasted food! According to EPA, one-third (63 million tons) of all food in the United States goes uneaten. Preventing food waste is a powerful action you can take to save money and lower your environmental footprint. Be a part of the solution by using our Waste Less Food resources.

We recommend hotels looking to cut food waste use the Hotel Kitchen resources. 

​More information coming soon.

Dangerous Waste Disposal

Many businesses generate some form of dangerous waste – waste that's potentially harmful to our health and environment. Dangerous waste has one or more of the following properties: toxic, ignitable, corrosive, or reactive. Common examples of dangerous waste include aerosols, pesticides, used oils, florescent lights, paints, and batteries.

The Small Quantity Generators (SQG) program helps qualifying businesses, agencies, and organization (including churches and non-profits) follow dangerous waste regulations. Your business is a Small Quantity Generator if it generates less than 220 pounds of hazardous waste per month and stores no more than 2,200 pounds of hazardous waste on site at any one time.

Become a Small Quantity Generator (SQG)

  1. Determine which disposal rules apply to your business on Ecology's Dangerous Waste Guidance page.

  2. Complete registration paperwork at your initial visit, or pre-register using the registration form

  3. Call 360-867-2912 to schedule a disposal appointment at HazoHouse. Payment will be sent following your disposal.

Visit the HazoHouse webpage for directions and hours of operations.

Construction & Demolition (C&D) Disposal

Recycling, salvaging, and reusing construction waste can reduce disposal costs and save natural resources. While there is not a single drop-off location for C&D material reuse and recycling, you'll find there are alternative disposal opportunities in Thurston and nearby counties. Materials may need to be separated to recycle them. 

It is important to carefully dismantle materials to salvage components for reuse before demolition. There may also be leftover materials after finishing a project. Items frequently desirable for reuse include:  

  • Bricks   
  • Cabinets   
  • Doors and hardware 
  • Lighting and plumbing fixtures  
  • Lumber  
  • Paint  
  • Windows (double-pane) 
  • Wood trim 

​If something cannot be reused, the next best option is recycled. Recycling C&D materials often costs money; however the fee is typically less than the disposal rate at the Waste & Recovery Center. Specialty recycling facilities in our area accept the following items:  

  • Aggregate (concrete, asphalt, rock)  
  • Drywall  
  • Metal  
  • Paint  
  • Roofing shingles  
  • Styrofoam
  • Untreated wood 
  • And more 


  1. Research disposal options 

  • Identify materials for reuse and recycling in a C&D plan.  
  • Use contractors experienced in C&D materials reuse and recycling initiatives. 
  • Incorporate C&D materials reuse and recycling language in contract specifications. 
  1. Set-up the worksite

  • Place bins in locations that will prevent misuse or contamination and label them. 
  • Educate subcontractors about what materials are to be recycled and where to put them. 
  1. Coordinate pickup 

Work directly with your garbage hauler or recycler to coordinate pickup or delivery. 


Think Beyond Recycling. Eliminate and Reuse Materials

Recycling is an excellent option; however, it is best to think about reducing from the start! Request our assistance for specific waste reduction ideas for your business.

Tips to eliminate waste

  • Provide reusable dishware in breakrooms and eliminate single-use items like paper cups and plates, plastic utensils, and condiments.
  • Set all printers to have double-sided as the default.
  • Install a filter on the tap water rather than using a water dispenser or single-use bottles.
  • Reuse trash can liners by emptying trashcan contents into a single bag.
  • Refill office supplies by purchasing refillable ink cartridges, tape dispenser, and pens.

Tips to reuse

  • Donate unwanted furniture, equipment, building materials, or other items to a local charity or second-hand store. Look up donation options on
  • Borrow or rent items such as tools and equipment instead of buying.

Statewide Policies & Special Recycling Programs

Washington State is addressing waste reduction through statewide policies. Depending on your business type, the polices may influence your purchasing and operations. 

​Plastic bags are a major contaminant in Washington recycling facilities, waterways, roadways, and environment. The ban eliminates many types of single-use plastic and charges for carryout bags. Details about the Washington single-use plastic bag ban

​Beginning in 2022, businesses can no longer automatically include single-use times in customer orders. The items include utensils, stirrers, straws, cold cup lids, and sauce or condiment packets. Customers must confirm they want single-use items or select items from self-service bins. Businesses may not provide single-use items by default. Find more about single-use serviceware.

​The program makes it easier for some businesses and Washington residents to recycle their unused and unwanted latex and oil paints for free. Retail locations can also serve as collection points. Get involved with PaintCare.

Washington State’s Recycling Law (RCW 70.93.093) requires recycling at official gatherings and sport facilities by vendors who sell beverages in single-use aluminum, glass, or plastic bottles or cans. Event coordinators should work directly with their waste hauler or consider our Borrow-A-Bin program.

​All mercury-containing lights must be recycled since mercury is a potent neurotoxin particularly harmful to children, infants, and fetuses. The small amounts in single light bulbs add up quick. Participate in LightRecycle.

​Recycle select electronics including televisions, computers, laptops, monitors, tablets, e-readers, and portable DVD players for free. Businesses under 50 employees, charitable organizations, schools, and small governments are eligible to participate. Find E-Cycle WA locations.