Recycling, the final frontier

recyclebucket.gifWe’ve confessed before that food-waste recycling is the one type of recycling we just haven’t quite gotten on board with yet. Looks like we’re going to have to; reports this morning (Times here, Weekly here) say we’re all going to be paying for pickup in less than 2 years. We hate paying for something we’re not using. Like the basic cable channels we don’t watch. Wish tv channels could be purchased a la carte. But we digress. So, we’ll get with the program. Maybe Sustainable West Seattle has advice! (More on the city’s “zero waste strategy” here.)

23 Replies to "Recycling, the final frontier"

  • Bill July 17, 2007 (7:23 am)

    WTF?? “Recycling food waste will be voluntary for apartments, as well as for businesses, which produce twice as much food waste as residents.”

    I’m fine with a new program like this…and helping pay for it. But only if it’s an across-the-board program. Why implement it and place the fee burden on only a portion of the population?

  • eric July 17, 2007 (8:04 am)

    The one item in the article that really stood out to me was the possible elimination of “the do-it-yourself trips to the transfer stations”

    That would really suck (and I am betting it would make streets like Bonair even more attractive dump sites).

  • Lou July 17, 2007 (8:17 am)

    eric – I agree with you. What is up with that? Getting rid of the self-haul trips will also increase junk at people’s homes…making our neighborhoods unsightly and attracting rodents. Hopefully this option is re-evaluated.

  • Robert July 17, 2007 (8:46 am)

    Am I being a “bad person” buy shredding some of my food waste down the dispoal?

  • Flowerpetal July 17, 2007 (9:14 am)

    Nope Robert, you are not a bad person. However, our waste water system was never really designed for garbage disposal waste. I guess that’s why they call it waste. Its so much more useful to put it into the clean green container if you go that route; or a worm bin. Its OK to throw it into the garbage if that’s your only available alternative. In fact its the way to go if you find that bowl of meatballs in the back of your fridge from three weeks ago! I’m a huge proponent of the food waste/clean green program. We use it all the time.
    I can’t imagine what the City is thinking of with looking towards disallowing citizens from using the transfer stations. I need to read more about that to understand what they are thinking of.

  • Jan July 17, 2007 (10:19 am)

    I use my garbage disposal…and I don’t feel guilty. While I can appreciate the reasons that they want to do this, I wonder how it’s feasible to totally enforce such a thing. Apartment dwellers especially would have a difficult time with this. I live in an apartment…we have 2 small containers for paper, etc. recycling for an 8 household building..they fill up quickly, and then what? It either goes in the trash, or piles up in your apartment. We do NOT have a yard waste container…there is no yard…so when what little grounds that we do have are “beautified”…it goes in the trash. The recycling band wagon is great, as long as things are thought through carefully…I think this is one thing that needs a lot of careful thought…

  • Kathy July 17, 2007 (11:05 am)

    I’m curious — why have the W. Seattle bloggers not gotten on board with the food recycling program? I love it, and probably preach way too enthusiastically about it to friends/family in other cities — who are always amazed that the Seattle offers the program.

    I just got back from an out-of-town trip to visit friends and found myself cringing everytime I saw someone put food in the garbage. It feels alsmost as “sinful” as dropping paper on the street….

  • NATINSTL July 17, 2007 (11:38 am)

    Personally I’m a little annoyed I have to pay for something my husband and I already do. We have a compost bin outside and one we keep in the kitchen now we have to pay for something we’ve already been doing.

  • Sue July 17, 2007 (12:10 pm)

    I just moved from an apartment to a rental house, so I had no idea about this program until I moved in May. I was so excited about it and jumped on board immediately! We don’t generally eat processed foods, so a large part of our garbage was actually food waste that we can compost now. I tell everyone about it and how excited we are, in the hopes that it’ll catch on here, as well as other cities. I think a lot of the opposition to it is the fear that it’ll stink up kitchens. We bought a small SimpleHuman garbage can that looks great on our counter, and it has a removable hard plastic container can be washed. We line it with some baking soda for odor control, and then put one of those paper lunch bags in it. Because it’s so small, it fills up fast and it’s never around long enough to truly smell (unless you’re opening it to put something in) or to gather bugs. Works perfectly for us. I never was comfortable with garbage disposals and concerned about putting that stuff into the waste water. So I was really thrilled about this composting option. I’ll admit I don’t pay for garbage (it’s part of my rent), but I’d gladly do so if it helps keep stuff out of landfills.

  • Sue July 17, 2007 (12:21 pm)

    Jan, recycling in apartment buildings leaves a lot to be desired, I’ve found. My husband and I recycled back in NY/NJ, so we had no problems with doing it. But when we lived over at West Ridge Park we had 3 of those 96 gallon recycling bins for paper/plastic and one for glass, and this was for about 30 apartments! We would have bags of recycling upstairs, waiting for recycling day when my husband would chase the truck to get rid of some of it, and then we’d fill the bins with the rest of it. Within 24 hours of pickup (which was every 2 weeks), all 3 bins would be filled totally. We complained to the complex and the city and they each blamed the other one and ultimately said they couldn’t do anything about it! It was really ridiculous to have to beg to recycle. When I moved into the house we’re renting and found out that we had an entire 96 gallon container just for us, we were thrilled. I wanted to do the right thing by recycling, but it was such a chore, and a lot of stuff did end up going in the garbage because the alternative was for it to get dumped all over the ground, like other apartment residents did. We had a similar situation when we lived in Lynnwood too, with no enough space for the recycling.

  • WSB July 17, 2007 (12:42 pm)

    Re: the question about our confession … We have a variety of excuses. None particularly good. For example, it would probably be a delightful development for the ants who have taken up residence in our kitchen no matter whether they have an easily accessible food source or not. (We do not use pesticides of any sort, anywhere, so have been exploring natural dissuasion … cinnamon shows promise.) But we support the concept of recycling as much as humanly possible so we’re just going to have to give this a whirl.

  • chas redmond July 17, 2007 (1:04 pm)

    I think the story might be misleading – this abstract is from Richard Conlin’s newsletter – he’s the council person behind much of this – and the “straight poop” sounds a lot more user-friendly:


    The South and North Recycling and Disposal Stations will be designed to accommodate expanded recycling, a retail re-use facility, and self-haul waste and collection trucks in roughly the same proportions that they now experience, but with design elements for self-haul tonnages to be below current levels.
    The City will not purchase property for the construction of a third solid waste facility.


    The City will implement a new organics program on April 1, 2009, including:

    All single-family customers will have organics collection unless the customer is actively composting food in the yard (an exemption process will be developed).

    A tiered can rate will be established for organics.

    All food waste will be included in organics collections.

    A future ban of all organics from single family garbage will be considered once the collection system has been fully established (2009).

  • star July 17, 2007 (1:55 pm)

    for scrap food storage you can keep a used paper bag in the freezer fill it up with food scraps and when it’s full put the whole in the yard waste. No bugs, no stink. Plus frozen and thawed food scraps decompose faster.

  • Jan July 17, 2007 (2:54 pm)

    I like the freezer idea…thanks…

  • The House July 17, 2007 (4:57 pm)

    Let me get this straight, we are have to collect our food waste, the city charges us, the city sells our food waste that we paid the city to collect for profit and then company resells our food waste back to us in another form. I know that’s what they currently do with other recycles, but they should be paying us, not charging us.

  • Jen V. July 17, 2007 (6:44 pm)

    I live in a duplex- very small yard so no yard waste container. So now my landlord (and by extension, me) will have to pay extra for food trash? I am all for recycling- in fact recycle most things (even empty tp rolls) but I think this should be voluntary for everyone. The city has much more important things to worry about!!

  • eric July 17, 2007 (6:47 pm)

    I’d love an update on the ants…. they seem to be really bad this year. I don’t want to call an exterminator (I am more afraid of the cost, but really would rather not have a bunch of chemicals pumped into my house). I am trying Concern Citrus Home Pest Control – probably not as inert as cinnamon sticks, but I can live with it. Not sure if it will work or not tho :(

  • TA July 17, 2007 (8:06 pm)

    Using a disposal for food waste creates two problems: First, it uses a huge amount of water as the disposal runs, and secondly, it puts food waste into a system that was not designed to deal with it. Having used a disposal for decades, we have just changed our system to one of food waste recycling. Right now, an inexpensive ice bucket from Target holds it until one of us takes it outside to the bin. I find the swarm of flies and the smell in the bin this time of year the worst part of the process!

  • miws July 17, 2007 (9:51 pm)

    So, the day may come when the average citizen won’t be able to go to the dump?



  • Jan July 17, 2007 (10:03 pm)

    well, TA, I suppose I would stop using my disposal if we had yard waste…’s an apartment building, and knowing my landlord like I do, I doubt that he’s gonna spring for anything…

    eric…I just acquired a VitaMix 5000. It has a recipe for a natural pesticide….supposedly works on ants. You could probably make it in a blender.

    “Making Natural Pesticides With Your Vita-Mix® Super 5000
    Believe it or not, you can use items grown right in your garden as natural pesticides. Some of the more popular items used are hot peppers or tomatoes. Hot peppers are a great all-around pesticide since they not only work as a pest repellent, but also help to heal plant diseases.

    Hot pepper sprays have been known to work especially well on leaf eating pests as well as root maggots, ants and soft-bodied insects. Best of all, mixing up a hot pepper pesticide is easy! Simply throw a handful of hot peppers into your Vita-Mix Super 5000 with a quart of water, mix well (about 2 minutes), strain thoroughly with cheesecloth before pouring in your spray bottle, and use this mixture to spray on affected plants.”

    wouldn’t hurt to give it a try….and it’s not expensive….

  • wsrecycler July 18, 2007 (10:49 am)

    you don’t HAVE to pay for it, you already do – the yard waste bins you’re provided w/ your trash & sewage are already paid for them (if you have them in addition to the recycle bins). just keep a small flip top trash can in your kitchen & empty it when you empty your trash. sometimes we have to take it out before the weekly trash take out, but rarely. and, we have so little trash now that we were able to downsize our trash can, and save $4/month. not a lot, but at least we know we’re doing OUR part in keeping the dumps empty. you can recycle or yard waste practically EVERYTHING. they’re even trying to get dairy & meat able to be yard wasted now, which means the only thing in the trash would be those stupid blister packs & plastic food bags.

  • eric July 18, 2007 (6:47 pm)

    wsrecycler: RTFA…

    While residents will have to pay for the service, the city will not check whether they are actually dumping food in the new separate bin…..

    Conlin said he hopes garbage-collection rates can be adjusted to absorb some of the additional cost homeowners will have to pay for food recycling.

    oh, and Conlin just got the Schrammie (let’s hope it doesn’t cause a bomb scare at City Hall)!

  • Wasted Food » Blog Archive » Seattle Separation July 23, 2007 (6:58 am)

    […] My friends at The Seattle Times have all the details covered. And here’s one columnist’s take on it. Reaction in the blogosphere ranges from semi-cynical to cynical.   […]

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