A Blueprint for King County and Puget Sound’s Hazardous Waste-Free Future
At the Hazardous Waste Management Program (Haz Waste Program), our vision for the future seems simple enough. We imagine and aim to create a Puget Sound region that’s the cleanest in the country, free from hazardous chemical exposure.
The path to that vision is less simple, however. Hazardous waste impacts all of us, from people to animals to the environment in the region. To achieve our vision, the Program needs a guiding plan – our 10-year Management Plan – to focus our work to create impact and ensure people and natural resources in King County are better off for years to come.
Below, we are proud to share a look into the Management Plan update process and some highlights of our work through 2030.
You can also visit our Document Library to download a copy of the Management Plan and learn more about how the Haz Waste Program will serve communities and work towards our shared vision for a hazardous materials-free future for our region.
Updating Our Plan
From 2020-2021, the Haz Waste Program set out to update our 10-year Management Plan. First, we listened. We sought long-term guidance from Program staff, regional partners, and governmental and non-governmental groups. We asked community members about their needs and priorities around hazardous waste. Throughout the process, we shared drafts of the Plan with everyone who provided feedback to ensure we addressed needs thoroughly and effectively.
Then, we reflected. We looked back on where we’ve been since our last Management Plan update and figured out where we want to go next and how we could partner with changemakers to get there.
What this collaborative process led to: An updated Management Plan to serve as our long-term guide over the next 10 years for how we work together, select our priorities, and carry out our work serving communities and reducing toxic exposures among people and the environment in King County.
What’s New in the Hazardous Waste Management Plan
Since our last Management Plan update in 2010, our Program has refined the way it operates, working to protect people and the environment from hazardous materials while focusing our efforts on the most impacted communities—both at home and at work — and remaining a good steward of Program resources.
- Leading with racial equity: Every person should experience similar positive health outcomes, regardless of their race, community, or geographic location. The Program will collectively work to realize our racial equity vision – race is not a determinant of hazardous materials exposure in households and businesses across King County. Everyone—and the environment—will benefit when we eliminate negative health outcomes and racial disparities between communities.
- Stronger focus on systems and policy change: Our understanding of racial equity, community organizing, behavior change best practices, and community and technical research all show that we need to focus our efforts on building momentum to promote safer alternatives and remove exposure to hazardous products at the source. We need to shift the burden of preventing exposure away from individuals to the systems and producers that create and distribute hazardous products.
- Continuing our Haz Waste services and support that help residents and small quantity generators safely dispose of hazardous waste and adopt safer alternatives and practices: We will continue to protect the public and the environment from contamination and exposure to hazardous products and wastes while we build momentum for systems changes. We will do this with an eye toward community partnerships, continuous improvement, and racial and geographic equity. These services include hazardous waste collection, outreach and education, and technical assistance to our residents and small quantity generators in-language and in-culture
Managing Hazardous Waste Around Puget Sound: Looking Ahead
For 30 years, the Haz Waste Program has worked to protect human health and the environment in King County, and provide relevant, responsive, and effective services for our ratepayers.
There is still much work to be done. King County continues to change and grow. Hazardous material exposure remains a significant problem for our residents and businesses. Easily available toxic products and chemicals continue to affect our communities – often inequitably.
But, there is hope. Our updated Management Plan will provide guidance for the next decade, incorporating current technical and community research and recommendations. Looking ahead, we remain dedicated to our mission, our ratepayers, and our commitment to racial equity.