A new law in Seattle regulating food waste has already started seeing positive results since its inception at the beginning of the year. The law went into effect on January 1, and it prohibits residents from tossing excess amounts of food debris into their waste bins. Starting in July, households will start seeing extra costs added on to their trash bills if they are committing infractions when it comes to sorting their refuse properly. Until then, warning notices will be posted so customers will know when they are dumping too much food waste into their waste containers. So at least there’s a grace period of sorts.

The fines will be assessed to customers if local haulers find more than 10% of the waste they collect to be food waste. Businesses in the city, as well as property managers, could face a fine of $50 for their food waste that is not composted. It does seem as though the non-commercial customers are getting more relaxed punishments.

Since the new law went into effect, Cedar Grove, the company that processes this food waste has seen its customer base increase by a third. But not everything is totally copacetic yet. Those at Cedar Grove are concerned that with so many more people getting into recycling for the first time, there are bound to be slip-ups that could end up contaminating the rest of the organic waste at their facilities.

We’ll keep an eye on this situation and keep updating to see what direction this all heads when it comes to processing Seattle’s organic waste. As of right now, citizens and the employees at Cedar Grove seem optimistic on the outcome of this new law. The initial goal of this new piece of legislation is to have a recycling rate in the city of 60% by the end of the year. That’s an impressive figure, but there is precedent across the United States. A 2013 study by UCLA of the ten largest US cities by population found half of them to be recycling at least 49% of their waste.

Responsible Recycling Across the Country

It’s clear that Seattle is getting serious about its waste and recycling, specifically when it comes to the organic kind It’s hard to tell right now whether fining customers for tossing too much instead of composting is going to do the trick. Slowly getting everyone into the program is a nice touch, giving out notices for the first seven months to get everyone acclimated to the new system.

As more areas across the US are getting on the composting train, it will be interesting to see what all of this means for recycling rates not just in cities and states, but for the country as a whole. Not only that, the cities that choose to penalize those not handling their waste property could receive some blow-back from the ones on the receiving end of those penalties. Hopefully more cities take Seattle’s approach and don’t try to stick people with bills right out of the gate.