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In Seattle, Your Trash Can Is No Place For Food Waste

It is now illegal for Seattle residents to throw food waste into garbage bins. Penalties will start in July.

Recycling has declined in Seattle, and the city hopes to meet a 60 percent composting goal this year.

Seattle has become the first city that will fine its residents for throwing food waste into the garbage bin. The new law became official on the first of the year.

You’ll Pay For That

Any household with more than 10 percent food waste in the garbage to be tagged with a red notice of infraction. Each household gets two notices, and on the third infraction, a fine will be levied.

Fines don’t go into effect until July 1.

Penalties will be up to $50 for apartments and commercial buildings. Single households will only be charged $1.

The city provides compost bins and picks up them curbside for free.

Compost, Not Trash

Other cities have implemented food waste bans for residential customers, including San Francisco and Vancouver. What makes Seattle’s policy the first of its kind is the city will financially penalize residential customers.

In 2012, Massachusetts became the first state to make it illegal for any large, industrial business to throw away food waste. The law went into full effect in 2014.

New York City also piloted a voluntary compost program across the city in 2013.

Americans on average waste 20 pounds of food per person, per month.

Read More:

  • Tossing Out Food In The Trash? In Seattle, You’ll Be Fined For That (NPR)
  • New Seattle law: No food in trash (Seattle PI)
Liz Leslie

Liz Leslie is a journalist based in Chicago. When she's not writing about food, she's likely eating food. Or dreaming about food.

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