Seattle Considers Fining Residents For Failure To Compost

Jul 24, 2014

A growing number of cities in the Northwest – including Seattle and Portland – give residents the option of putting household food waste in a curbside compost bin. But in a push to boost recycling rates, the city of Seattle is rethinking the optional part.

Seattle officials are proposing a new rule that would make curbside composting mandatory and enforceable.
Seattle officials are proposing a new rule that would make curbside composting mandatory and enforceable.
Credit normanack / Flickr

Seattle officials are proposing a new rule that would make curbside composting mandatory and enforceable.That means people who put too many food scraps in the garbage would be fined for non-compliance. Garbage haulers would check people's trash for things like egg shells, banana peels and leftovers and report the cans where they find 10 percent or more food waste.

The fine would only be a dollar. But Tim Croll of Seattle Public Utilities said it could help the city reach its 2015 recycling goals. Especially when combined with other new rules such as requiring businesses to use all compostable service ware.

"If we don't pursue these, there's no way we'll get to our goals by 2015,” Croll said. “So, this gives us our best shot to do that."

Seattle has a goal of recycling 60 percent of its garbage by the end of next year. But it's still about 4 percent shy.

If approved by the city council, the new rules would take effect next year. A vote could come in the fall.

Copyright 2014 Oregon Public Broadcasting