On Jan. 1, leftovers in Seattle are no longer trash -- they're compost

SEATTLE -- The trash talk is ramping up.

With 300,000 tons of waste from Seattle being hauled to an Oregon landfill every year, the city hopes to cut down on the trash.

About one-third of all the waste is food that is equivalent to 11,000 garbage trucks.

On Tuesday, Q13 FOX News followed along as crews picked apart the trash in one residential neighborhood.

“This route, most of the people do a good job, it’s just one or two people who don’t take the time,” said Rodney Watkins, of Recology CleanScapes.

Time may be the issue for some but for others it’s confusion about what to compost.
Besides food items, other compostable items include napkins, paper towels and pizza boxes.

“It’s really easy for those things to add up and become very wasteful very quickly,” Seattle resident Laura Ward said.

Ward says it’s worth the effort to save the environment.

“I would certainly want to know what the returns on this policy is going to be,” Ward said.

The city hopes to recycle and compost 60% of all of its waste by next year.

“It’s not as if we are going through people’s trash -- it’s if we notice that it’s obvious,” Watkins said.

If a trash can has more than 10% of food or other compostable items, homeowners will get a warning starting January 1. It’s the same rule for owners of multi-residential buildings and businesses. Condo and apartment owners are required to provide large compost dumpsters so residents can drop off their waste.

If homeowners don’t comply by July 1, they will be fined $1 per violation. It’s $50 for owners of condos, apartments and businesses

“Most people want to do the right thing,” Watkins said.