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CityLink Seattle

New Seattle Food Waste Requirements Start Jan. 1

Compost Food. It’s Not Garbage Anymore!

13-galCedarGrove_FBStarting January 1, 2015, the City of Seattle will no longer allow food or compostable paper, including pizza boxes, paper napkins and paper towels, in the garbage.

Part of the city’s solid waste comprehensive plan, the food waste requirements were passed earlier this year by the Seattle City Council and signed into law by Mayor Ed Murray. The ordinance is projected to divert as much as 38,000 more tons of food scraps from the landfill each year, helping Seattle achieve its goal to recycle or compost 60 percent of its waste by 2015.

“Seattle is a national leader in recycling,” said Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) Solid Waste Director Tim Croll. “Most of our city’s businesses and residents are already composting. This requirement is a progression of our collective efforts that help our city become even greener.”

Seattle’s recyclables and yard waste have been prohibited from the garbage for more than a decade. Prior to submitting the food waste legislation, SPU polled businesses and residents and found widespread support for the measure. In a Survey USA telephone poll conducted in June, more than 3 out of 4 Seattle residents polled supported the proposal.

Organics – food, paper napkins, cardboard pizza boxes, leaves and grass – make up the largest component of Seattle’s waste. SPU estimates that 30 percent of the 317, 258 tons of trash that was disposed in the landfill in 2013 was compostable.

Seattle began biweekly curbside residential vegetative food waste collection in 2005. In 2009, Seattle required all residents to participate in food waste collection or backyard composting, and started collecting food and yard waste every week, including meat, fish and dairy. SPU estimates that businesses and residents have diverted nearly 400,000 tons of food from the landfill since 2005.

Today, more than 300,000 single-family, multi-family and commercial properties participate in food and yard waste collection. Seattleites divert more than 125,000 tons of food and yard waste from the landfill each year. In 2013, Seattle’s diverted 56.2 percent of its waste – 407,125 tons – from the landfill via recycling and composting.

Seattle is the latest of several cities that have passed food waste requirements, including Vancouver, BC, Portland, OR, San Francisco, CA, and New York, NY.