Seattle Says: Recycling Just Got Easier

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By Thijs Moonen

In a new step towards Seattle's zero-waste strategy, the City announced an improved waste management system for residents of single-family homes and apartments about a month ago.

As of Monday, the new system launched, affecting approximately 160,000 Seattle households. The new regulations will make recycling quite a bit easier, though those of us who have been sorting our recyclables for years will need to adopt new habits. Glass no longer needs to be separated from other recyclables. Residents can keep their old glass recycling bins if they choose, or put them upside down next to their recycling cart if they no longer want them.

Aluminum foil, plastic cups, and lids (wider than 3") from plastic store-bought containers -- all which used to be considered trash -- are now accepted in recycling bins.

The biggest change, however, is that signing up for a food-scrap bin (at a monthly cost of $3.60) is now mandatory for single-family homes, unless residents can prove that they are already composting. You may now dispose of anything from meat to cut branches in the compost/yard waste bin. Despite the monthly fee for the composting service, residents can get a better deal in the end by recycling and composting more waste and replacing their garbage can with a smaller one.

Apartment dwellers living in buildings that don't participate in City composting can still choose to vermicompost at home (read: having red worms transforming your food scraps into highly nutritious fertilizer for pot plants). Setting up a worm bin is surprisingly easy, and if maintained correctly, won't smell or create a mess.

In any case, the new waste management system will help the City achieve its goal to slow Seattle's annual 440,000 ton contribution to the landfill. The collected compost is used on local parks and gardens after being processed at the Cedar Grove facility.

For a detailed description of what the new recycling and composting policies will change for you, click here

To get a better understanding of why recycling is essential in a zero-waste city, please read more about Near Zero-Waste and Alex Steffen's article on Density and Closed-Loop Cities

photo credit: flickr/Christine Renee, Creative Commons License

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