A Brighter Emerald

Seattle takes steps to further cement its green image.

Seattle Plans to Further its zero-waste initiative, which was passed in July 2007 and will begin in April 2009, with newly approved solid waste regulations that will change its food scrap recycling program and compost services.

Richard Conlin, city council president and the author of the zero-waste initiative, says the new regulations will help reduce the city's carbon footprint and enhance the environment. Starting in April 2009, residents will be able to place their meat, fish and dairy scraps into their yard waste bins. Under the initial program passed in July 2007, residents were required to buy separate bins for their food scraps. The city will collect the waste once each week and take it to a composting facility. The resulting compost will be either distributed to state agencies for projects or sold to private customers. “Table scraps will no longer be waste, but instead will become a resource for the city's gardens,” Conlin says.

Dick Lilly, business area manager of waste prevention for Seattle Public Utilities, says the city's next step in food scrap recycling is to include commercial food waste in the existing program. “It's a frontier for us,” he says.

In addition to the food scrap changes, the city will vote in June whether to ban plastic foam containers and cups in restaurants and whether to impose a 20-cent green fee on disposable shopping bags, both paper and plastic. City officials say both measures are expected to pass easily. The city also expects to look into ways to increase recycling of construction and demolition debris, renovate its two transfer stations and place an annual cap on the amount of waste sent to landfills at 440,000 tons, which is the amount disposed of in 2006 when the zero-waste initiative was being developed.