SEATTLE OFFICIALS RANG in the new year by beginning enforcement of the city's year-old recycling law. Under the ordinance, failure to comply could result in residents having their garbage uncollected for a few days and businesses having to pay a fine.
The law actually went into effect on Jan. 1, 2005, but the city delayed enforcement for a year to educate the public.
The ordinance prohibits Seattle residents and businesses from placing “significant amounts” of recyclables in their trash. The city defines “significant amount” as “more than 10 percent by volume.”
When single-family homeowners fail to comply, a tag will be left on their can by sanitation crews instructing the homeowner to separate the recyclables and place the garbage container at the curb for collection the following week. Business sites and apartment complexes will receive two warnings and then a $50 fine if they repeatedly ignore the ordinance.
Under the terms of the ordinance, the following items are considered recyclable materials for residents: paper, cardboard, glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles and jars, aluminum and tin cans, and yard debris. For businesses, paper, cardboard and yard debris are deemed as recyclables by the city.
According to published reports, Seattle passed the ordinance with the hope of increasing its recycling rate, which is currently below 40 percent. The city has set a goal of increasing the rate to 60 percent by the end of the decade. City officials have reportedly estimated that such an increase could save the city about $2 million a year.