Seattle Steps Forward

It might feel like any other Monday to you, but it’s a momentous one. After much buildup, Seattle’s mandatory curbside composting begins today!

From now on, Seattleites who live in single family homes must separate their food and yard waste from their regular trash. This organic waste will then be collected weekly in a green bin and composted by Cedar Grove. (Previous, voluntary collection had been every other week.)

photo by Modern Times via Creative CommonsAs far as I know, it’s the first such case of mandatory food waste collection. Let’s call it compelled composting. And it makes sense that it’s happening in Seattle, which began curbside recycling in 1988.

I like that the city is also employing a carrot: Households have an incentive to reduce their regular garbage because the smaller the container, the less households pay.

The whole thing seems so…enlightened. The city even has a Web site with plenty of tips on food waste collection. The do’s and don’ts are clearly spelled out. As this poster depicts, meats and cheeses can be composted. And finally, no more landfilling of pizza boxes!

Oh, and if you already compost at home, you’re exempt from collection. The city site also provides resources for novice composters on their site.

If there’s one thing I’d like to see changed, it’s getting apartment and condo dwellers involved. Ditto for commercial customers. But all things in due time. For today, let’s just appreciate that there are 30,000 more food waste collection bins in use.

Update: Here’s the local TV news’ coverage of Monday’s changes.

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