Seattle’s composting program ahead of schedule

Seattle resident Janet Gwilym and her children demonstrate the proper way to compost, recycle or throw away household waste.

The city’s new food waste composting program, launched in January, is way ahead of schedule and is on track by year’s end to recycle about 19,000 additional tons of organic material — the equivalent of 380 rail cars — that otherwise would go to a landfill, Mayor Ed Murray announced today.

Because of the program’s success to date, and to make sure everyone in the city knows the new recycling rules, the mayor said he is suspending the fines that were to have taken effect July 1, and ordering a continued focus on customer education.

“This is great news for Earth Day — great news for any day of the year,” said Murray. “Seattle is only weeks into our nation-leading program, and it looks like we are well on our way to achieving 38,000 additional tons of compost per year, our goal for year three of the program.”

The success of the city’s composting effort means there is an excellent chance that Seattle will achieve its long-term goal of recycling 60 percent of all its waste. In 2013, Seattle diverted 56 percent of its waste away from the landfill by recycling and composting more than 407,000 tons.

A mid-March survey by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) found that 71 percent of Seattleites are aware of the new composting law, but Murray is directing Seattle Public Utilities to conduct additional outreach and education so that all families and businesses understand how to recycle food waste.

In addition to multi-pronged customer outreach earlier this year, Seattle Public Utilities will launch a robust food waste campaign in June, continuing through the end of the year, that will include:

  • Multiple residential customer mailings with educational materials.
  • Targeted outreach and assistance to ethnic communities and businesses.
  • Outreach partnerships with community groups.
  • Customer notices and flyers on garbage cans and dumpsters.
  • Field assistance to businesses, apartments and condos.
  • Paid advertising on TV, Radio, Print and Transit.
  • Online networking and promotion.

“Our family has composted for years. It’s easy, it saves us money because we can have a smaller garbage can, and we feel good about reducing our environmental impact,” said Seattle resident Janet Gwilym. “We can all do this one small thing in the kitchen that results in sending fewer garbage trains to the landfill.”

Seattle’s composting ordinance allows for $1 fines for single household families and $50 fines for multi-family dwellings and businesses who fail to sort food waste from garbage going to the landfill.

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