Shoreline weighs possible fines for putting wrong items in recycling bins

SHORELINE - Global restrictions on recycling have reached a local level.

The city of Shoreline is looking at ways to help residents sort recycling better, and those who don’t could face a fine.

Among the topics of discussion at Shoreline City Hall on Monday evening was an amendment to the city’s contract with Recology, the company contracted to pick up the waste bins around Shoreline.

“You’re putting stuff in there that’s recycling but it’s not,” said Randy Witt with Shoreline's Public Works Department.

He says items like cardboard pizza boxes and take-out containers with grease and food residue often get put into the recycling bins where they don’t belong. Containers like those belong inside the compost bins, says Kevin Kelly, the general manager of Recology of King County.

“Recyclables need to be much cleaner across the board,” said Kelly.

The amendment includes discussions of programs to maintain correct recycling practices.

“We’re looking at how to meet that cleanliness requirement and not having contamination in it,” said Witt.

One way to do that is a proposal to have Recology workers check what’s inside the bins of Shoreline residents at least twice a year.

“They know pretty quickly upon lifting the lid if there are contaminated or not. We’re not talking about rummaging through material. We’re talking about looking at the bin and seeing if it belongs in the recycling facility,” said Kelly.

He added education is first and foremost, and if Recology employees find portions of the recycling bin that doesn’t belong in the bins, customers will get two warnings and the third time, a fine.

“For residential customers, it’s a flat $20 fee,” said Kelly.

Recology has found everything from clothing to greasy food in recycling containers, and Kelly says most people just don’t know what is allowed and what is not.

“This is a reset for recycling and we’re all responding to it,” said Kelly.

The Shoreline City Council plans to vote on the amendment sometime next month.

Kelly says Recology has implemented similar programs in Burien and SeaTac, and he says they have found customers very responsive.

Rate hikes to support Recology’s educational efforts are also being proposed, which would be between $1 and $3 per month depending on commercial, single or multi-family households.

For more information on Shoreline's current recycling policy, click here.