Seattle to Fine Residents, Businesses for Wasting Too Much Food

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( — September 28, 2014)  — In an effort to encourage its residents to compost food leftovers, the Seattle City Council passed a new set of rules regulating the garbage disposal methods of homes, businesses, and apartment buildings.

In accordance with these new regulations, establishments or homes found to throw excessive food in their garbage will be penalized accordingly.

Starting in January, trash collectors “can take a cursory look each time they dump trash into a garbage truck,” the Seattle Times reported.

According to Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), residents whose trash consists of at least 10 percent food waste or certain paper products will receive a warning from the start of the year until the end of June. However, on July 1 the fines will begin, the Associated Press said.

Single-family homes will face a $1 fine on their next garbage bill if they don’t comply with the new rules. Trash collectors will enter the violation into a computer system their trucks already carry, and will leave a ticket explaining the details of the fine on the garbage bin.

Apartment buildings and businesses must also comply with the 10-percent-or-less threshold, but commercial properties will receive two warnings before they are hit with a $50 fine on their next bill. Inspectors will check dumpsters on a random basis, the Times reported.

“Compostable are about 30 percent of what is still in the garbage and they are the largest target we have to help us reach our goals,” said Timothy Croll, the solid waste director of the utilities commission.

The fines aren’t intended to raise revenue in Seattle. Neither was a nine-year-old prohibition on recyclables in the trash. The city has collected less than $2,000 from those fines, Croll told the Times.

“We care more about reminding people to separate their materials,” he added.

The newly legislated law is anticipated to provide an additional 38,000 tons of compost material annually. Moreover, the city officials claim that these new rules will only require “minimal costs”, which would eventually be offset by the reduction in the use of landfills.

However, some residents remain torn on the usefulness of the rules.