The Seattle City council recently passed a new ordinance designed to promote composting and keep food out of landfills. If you live in Seattle, you may get fined for not properly sorting your garbage. The law is meant to keep food out of the landfills. In addition to a fine, home owners may also expect to get their garbage can marked with a scarlet letter.
The law isn’t just about composting and helping the environment. As with most things, it has to do with money. Seattle currently sends around 100,000 tons of garbage to Eastern Oregon landfills. Though the two states do border each other, Seattle is a long way from Eastern Oregon. Seattle Public Utilities estimates that around 38,000 tons of this garbage is made up of food waste. This means that over a third of their waste is made up of discarded food.
As one can imagine, it’s pretty expensive to ship 38,000 tons of waste all the way to Eastern Oregon. Not to mention that the landfills don’t take the waste out of the kindness of their hearts. The city of Seattle has set a goal of recycling and composting 60% of the cities waste by the end of 2015.
Seattle has already prohibited recyclable material such as paper, bottles, jars, and cans from being put into the garbage. The new law would further these regulations to include food and compostable paper.
Companies that produce food waste will have to either compost their material or subscribe to a composting service. Seattle might be a good place to relocate to if you are interested in making a little money and getting free composting material. Single family homes and apartments are already required to either compost their waste or subscribe to a composting service.
So how will the city enforce this new law? Enforcement will largely come down to the garbage men and women. Any household whose garbage is made up of more than 10% food waste can expect a $1 penalty added to their garbage bill. Third time offenders can expect to receive a $50 fine added to their bill.
Seattle currently sends around 125,000 tons of food and yard waste to composting contractors. The compost is then used for local parks and gardens.
This may sound a little excessive to some libertarian minded people. However, the new ordinance had seen a great deal of public support. According to the Seattle governments’ website, around 74% of people support this new ordinance.