Seattle, Washington – The Emerald City has always been on the forefront of the sustainability movement in the United States. One of the reasons that Seattle has become such a green city is that it is constantly striving for environmental improvements. Recently, the City of Seattle has set its sights on food waste, in efforts to keep it out of area landfills.
The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a new ordinance that would allow residents to be fined, if they attempt to dispose of materials that could be composted. Previously, composting in Seattle was just strongly encouraged. Although there is a law that mandates apartment buildings to provide compost bins, the residents are not required to participate.
Unfortunately, it seems Seattle area residents are not composting at a sufficient rate, however now they will be hopefully motivated by money. Starting very soon, garbage collectors will be taking glances inside the bins. If a waste removal professional determines that over 10 percent of the total materials are compostable, then they will charge the customer a fee.
Each garbage truck is outfitted with a computer system to input the additional fee of $1, which will automatically appear on the next bill. The non green Seattle residents will have an opportunity to change their ways twice, before it results in a $50 charge. Both apartment buildings and businesses will be held to the exact same standards.
The new plans call for random checks of all Seattle dumpsters. Any dumpster filled with food waste will be served with educational tickets, until dumpster fines officially begin in July of 2015. However, these new waste removal laws were not implemented to provide the City of Seattle with a source of income.
“The point isn’t to raise revenue,” said Tim Croll Seattle’s Public Utilities Director. “We care more about reminding people to separate their materials.”
Back in 2005, Seattle outlawed any recyclable items in the trash. Area residents were able to divert 79 million tons of materials from ending up in landfills and incinerators, compared to 34 million tons in 1990. Since the recycling law began, the City of Seattle has only collected $2,000 in fines.
Currently, Seattle’s recycling rate has reached 54 percent, but experts predict that only slight improvements lie in the future, unless things change. With recycling efforts stalled, it is hoped that increasing compost could give Seattle a much needed push to reach their goal of recycling 60 percent of the city’s trash by the year 2015.
Even with Seattle applying a variety of environmental friendly efforts, they are still transporting 300,000 tons of garbage to the landfill every year. So there is obviously a great deal of opportunity to continue improving. It is estimated that the new law will produce 38,000 additional tons of compost every year.
The City of Seattle collects both residential and commercial composting bins on a weekly basis. Area residents have no excuse to not compost, especially if they are trying to avoid additional charges. When composting efforts improve, Seattle will have to find a new waste removal aspect to make better.