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Why isn’t food waste allowed in the garbage?

SPU_Compost_Ad_Released_Onions_FINALIf you live in Seattle, you’ve probably heard this: food waste is no longer allowed in the garbage.

What’s the reasoning behind this rule?

For one, about a third of food in America is thrown away each year. That’s 133 billion pounds of food that ends up in landfills, where it mixes in with all the other garbage, rots, and produces methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

By keeping food waste and other compostable items out of the trash, we can greatly decrease the amount of organic waste we send to the landfill.

But there’s another great reason to keep food waste out of the trash. By disposing of these items in your household Food & Yard Waste cart, you’re contributing to the creation of something awesome: compost.

So what exactly is compost? And why is it awesome?

Compost is basically the product of decomposition. It’s what happens when things like yard waste and kitchen scraps are combined and broken down, with the help of some heat, microbes and oxygen. The result is a nutrient-rich material that can be added to soil to improve its structure and moisture levels, making it less susceptible to erosion and a better home for plants.

Seattleites use compost to improve the health of our local gardens, farms, and greenspaces. The rich soil it creates also filters contaminants, preventing polluted stormwater runoff from entering our storm drains and spilling into our waters.

The vast majority of Seattle residents are already composting by putting everything from egg shells to grass clippings in their curbside Food & Yard Waste bins. If you’re one of them: thanks, and keep up the good work! If you haven’t started composting yet, the resources below will help you get started.

Thanks for doing your part to give our food waste a new beginning.

Not sure whether something is compostable? Check out our Food Waste Requirements Flier, or take our lookup tool for a spin.

Learn more about food waste requirements by visiting