Recycling

Throw Away a Banana Peel, Pay a Fine in Seattle

|

stevendepolo, Foter

Composting is great, but should it be mandatory? The Seattle City Council thinks so. Last week all nine councilmembers decided that those who fail to put their banana peels in the right bin will pay a fine.  

The penalty is $1 for individual households, whereas apartments and commercial buildings will receive two warnings and then a $50 fine.

The Seattle Times explains how dissident trashers will be caught:

Under the new rules, collectors can take a cursory look each time they dump trash into a garbage truck.

If they see compostable items make up 10 percent or more of the trash, they'll enter the violation into a computer system their trucks already carry, and will leave a ticket on the garbage bin that says to expect a $1 fine on the next garbage bill.

Apartment buildings and businesses will be subject to the same 10 percent threshold. … Dumpsters there will be checked by inspectors on a random basis.

Collectors will begin tagging garbage bins and Dumpsters with educational tickets starting Jan. 1 when they find violations. But fines won't start until July 1.

Seattle Public Utility (SPU Director Tim Croll tells the Times:

SPU hasn't decided whether it's going to have an appeals process. The new law doesn't set out any such process. SPU wants to see how people behave before it decides.

SPU will spend about $400,000 on education, outreach and marketing for the law. But the agency doesn't expect any additional enforcement costs.

"So, why is Seattle making residents compost?" asks CNN. "The city was not going to meet its self-imposed goal of recycling 60 percent of all waste."

Although the city requires residents to compost, it does not foot the bill for the approved composting equipment, which can range in price from $80 to $238

Advertisement

NEXT: Activist Robert Kennedy Jr. Denies He Wants to 'Jail Climate Change Deniers'—Actually Wants to 'Execute' Climate Villain Corporations and Think Tanks

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Well, someone might slip and fall in hilarious fashion.

    Just Say No to slapstick.

  2. The US has so much landfill space and potential landfill space that a 60 percent recycling goal is silliest thing I’ve ever heard. It’s obviously more about politics and appearance than reality and fiscal responsibility.

    And I wonder how those trash guys feel about becoming trash police and forgoin tips from angry violators this Christmas.

    1. Oh, I missed the comment about the 60% recycling goal.

      Hilarious. So Seattle is making people “recycle” stuff that is already biodegradable in order to meet a totally arbitrary goal.

      They’ve completely lost the point that recycling was supposed to be a way of dealing with non-biodegradable materials like tin cans, glass, and plastic.

      1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the problem is that biodegradable stuff doesn’t decompose in landfills due to the liners and caps meant to contain leachate and off gassing. There’s no mechanical agitation and very little soil organisms to chew up and break down the stuff.

  3. Today a fine, tomorrow a cot in the re-education camp.

    1. Cots are a privilege ProLib, not a right.

    2. I actually believe it’s a stone cell with a small wash pot in the corner, and bucket in the other. Because that’s more natural.

    3. You know, Pro Lib, we could solve the problem of Seattle in a rather straightforward manner.

      1. Put a big wall around it and dump prisoners inside.

  4. MOAR REVENUES!

    Oh, and SAVE THE PLANET!

  5. When can we expect the high risk entry to serve a no knock warrant over a banana peel?

    1. Zero tolerance! It’s the only way! We tried to be nice but the peasants resisted our guidance!

  6. We had a greeny fanatic at work who somehow coaxed them into putting these recycling bins in every one’s office to replace our garbage cans, in an attempt to ‘nudge’ all of us to be more green. The person is long since gone, but the bins remain.

    So these bins are green and have a little yellow bin attached. The larger green bin is for recyclables, and the yellow is for food scraps (compost). The problem is there is nowhere to put garbage. You actually have to leave your office and walk to find a ‘red’ can where you can throw anything that is not food scraps or compost.

    So what has happened? No one gives a fuck anymore and just throws everything into the green bins.

    1. We have garbage, recycling and security scrap.

      Recycling is pretty much just paper, as is the security scrap (which is fed to the shredder before joining the recycling)

      Everything else lands in the garbage.

    2. At a place I used to work at they had the dual trash/recycle bins at each desk. One night I noticed that the cleaning guy just threw it all in the same bag as he went around cleaning.

      I asked him what was up and he said that since no one did a decent job separating at their desk, they just collected it all in the same bag and then paid someone to sort it all downstairs before it was carted off.

      1. then paid someone to sort it all downstairs before it was carted off.

        JERBZ!

    3. We had a greeny fanatic at work who somehow coaxed them into putting these recycling bins in every one’s office to replace our garbage cans, in an attempt to ‘nudge’ all of us to be more green. The person is long since gone, but the bins remain.

      Of course! The person who ushers in the most douchey non-work-related rules are always the first to go elsewhere.

      Because someone whined about food smells near the microwave, my whole office was banned from using the microwave. Sure enough, that person went out the door. Luckily, after our director was fired for banging his employees, I went back to using the microwave.

    4. In the office I’m in now, there’s a recycling bin in the break room for aluminum cans (and aluminum cans only) which is the height of a regular garbage can. The vending machines in that same break room do not have a single item that comes in a can, all of the drinks are in 20 oz. plastic bottles. I think I’ve seen more garbage and coffee grounds thrown into it then aluminum cans.

    5. That’s my workplace – going for 100% recyclables.

      We have a different bin for:

      metal
      foam
      plastic
      cardboard
      compost/food
      paper (to be shredded)
      glass
      and pop cans with deposit

      I’m reminded of this episode of Bullshit where they have the multiple trash containers for every subset of recyclables.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rExEVZlQia4

    6. About a year ago the building I am in tried removing the trash bins from everyone’s office as a pilot. The backlash was so strong it only lasted a few weeks.

      At the company anniversary party one of the video submissions was a song parody called “I Want My Trash Back”. It was a big hit.

  7. Apartment buildings and businesses will be subject to the same 10 percent threshold. ? Dumpsters there will be checked by inspectors on a random basis.

    Gee, I can’t think of any way that system could ever conceivably be abused.

    1. And since those fines will just bump up everyone’s rent regardless, there will no point in bothering with the tedious recycling. Good job, greenies!

  8. Big black garbage bags must be behind this.

  9. About time vegans got a taste of their own medicine.

    I fired my last garbage collector because they refused to pick up my trash a few times because I had put the carcasses of various critters I had killed and butchered at home (1 deer carcass, another time it was a bunch of pheasant guts/feathers and multiple times for fish guts).

    Trying to deal with them was such a hassle. When I called to find out why they hadn’t picked up my trash, they said they wouldn’t collect “animal products”. I asked them if they would pick up pork chop bones. Yes? Would they pick up trash if I threw out catfish bones? Yes? So what is the difference?

    Each time, I told them I would remove the offensive materials and they sent a truck down the next day. In reality, all I did was throw more garbage over the stuff they didn’t like and since they didn’t see it when they flipped the lid, they were happy.

    When I fired them, they called back all butt hurt asking why I would leave their Mom and Pop operation for their Mega Corp competition.

    1. Where do you live where you can fire your garbage collector?

      1. Yeah, there are a couple of options. One is a small mom and pop operation and the other is run by a huge corporation. They both pick up on the same day and the only way to really tell is by the garbage cans.

        We kept the mom and pop for a couple years because they had the account when we moved in and it was easy.

        After dealing with their heightened sensibilities a few too many times, I finally decided that it was time to switch.

        Mega Corp hasn’t given a shit about what I put into my trash ever.

      2. Sorry, I forgot to say I live in a suburb of Minneapolis. Same place as Tundra (although I think he lives in the swanky part of town, while I live in the east side barrio).

  10. Seattle has curbside food and yard waste pickup. Seattle doesn’t require homeowners to have a compost bin in their yard, it requires them to separate food and yard waste from other garbage for pick up and processing. Seattle also has volumetric waste pricing, so you pay for the volume of stuff you throw out instead of a flat monthly rate.

    1. I would guess some people sneak their own trash into their neighbors’ bins.

      1. Yep. Probably. And probably also in the dumpsters behind the grocery stores too.

        1. Someone should publish the addresses of the city council members for just that reason.

          1. (^o^)?

            Hilarious! Just imagine the law they’d pass to put a stop to that!

        2. Except where dumpsters have been banned as well.

          http://www.seattle.gov/council…..sp?ID=9459

    2. Seattle also has volumetric waste pricing, so you pay for the volume of stuff you throw out instead of a flat monthly rate.

      I believe it was a topic in ‘Freakanomics.’ A per bag disposal fee incentivized putting food scraps through the sink’s disposal, resulting in an explosion in the sewer rat population.

    3. Some places are so silly about garbage. In my state, PA, garbage is commerce–we take it if NY and NJ are too delicate to dispose of it on their own.

      In my township, we get to put out up to 6 33 gallons plus a huge recycling wheelie (metal, glass, paper) every week, for $160 a year. Plus one big item a week.

    4. OK, that takes care of my Q below. So Zenon Evans was at least very misleading by hir last sentence.

  11. The Seattle City Council thinks so. Last week all nine councilmembers decided that those who fail to put their banana peels in the right bin will pay a fine.

    By the way, this is nothing new. (Now Ex) Mayor Nickels got a law passed where your garbage is searched for recyclables.

    You also notice that the vote was unanimous. It’s not like there’s a single fucking person on the council that has a different opinion about the scope of government. I’m getting a little sick of unanimous votes over there.

    1. But consensus! Consensus is science! If we don’t vote in lockstep, we’ll look like idiots!

    2. The smug must be unbearable up there. But no worries, this same shit is coming to every city in the country eventually. Because if you disagree that means you hate the earth.

      1. I gotta admit, the smug is getting harder and harder to live with every year.

        I loved this place when I moved here… now I regularly wonder where else I’d like to live when I finally have a mental breakdown by the ProgDerp singularity.

        1. I feel the same about NYC. There’s less smug here for now, but a constant wind from west to east means nowhere is safe.

  12. Do they ban garbage disposals?

    I don’t see the point of mandatory composting.
    Compostable material is by definition biodegradable. And renewable.
    Composting is for people who want fertilizer for an organic garden. It’s not beneficial as a recycling method for food scraps.

    1. They respectfully request you don’t use them… because composting!

      Everything food related goes down my disposal. Yard waste goes into the bin, but I don’t put food scraps in there.

      My neighbor does and during the summer on a hot day, when the breeze wafts from the south, I can smell it.

      1. I wonder what all the food waste does to the sewer system. Does flushing that much organic material down the sink impact the water quality?
        No doubt a lot of it is meat, too, so it’s going to breed all sorts of nasty organisms.

        1. I can’t imagine throwing down a bit of steak will produce more nasty organisms than a pile of human poo will.

          It’s a matter of time before disposals are banned.

          http://www.seattlepi.com/local…..884975.php

          Last month, seattlepi.com reported on the coronary-like conditions in many of the city’s sewer pipes caused by fats, oils and greases, or what utility workers call “FOG.” It causes about 30 percent of the city’s wastewater overflows and requires routine maintenance on problem spots. SPU estimates about 544,000 gallons of grease get into the sewers every month, enough to fill seven large swimming pools. The utility is studying the causes and taking steps to reduce it by working with restaurants around the greasiest sewer lines and educating residents not to dump grease down the drain.

          1. Grease is going down the drain whether you have a disposal or not.

            What else are you going to do with it?
            You put the tap on hot and you pour it down the drain.

            Grease will get rancid if you put it in the trash, just like anything else.
            Nevermind that it’s usually hot when you want to get rid of it.

            1. Stick in a soup can or coffee mug, let it cool, throw it out. I’ve been in my house for a year and have had to snake basically every drain (including the sewer trap), so I no longer tempt fate with the grease.

            2. Uh. I guess you can put grease down the drain if you hate the person who owns the house, but if it’s your own house I’d really recommend against it.

            3. That’s why you run the tap on hot. To keep it from congealing until after it’s been mixed with lots of water and separated into much smaller droplets.

          2. The Brits call them “fatbergs”.

            http://www.theguardian.com/env…..e-blockage

            Fatbergs build up on sewer roofs like mushy stalactites. “I have witnessed one. It’s a heaving, sick-smelling, rotting mass of filth and faeces. It hits the back of your throat, it’s gross,” said Evans.

            In Minnesota we call them “cheeseheads”…

  13. At least they get the option of a fine. Minneapolis is just going to charge everyone.

    http://www.startribune.com/loc…..86061.html

    More than 100,000 homes across the city will see a $48 hike in their annual trash bills next year largely due to the program. City officials only expect 40 percent of those households to participate, even though every homeowner will be paying for it.

    Oh, yeah.

    A 2013 consultant’s study presented to the City Council found that the greenhouse gas reductions from composting would be offset by the emissions from separate trucks used to pick up the material.

    1. A 2013 consultant’s study presented to the City Council found that the greenhouse gas reductions from composting would be offset by the emissions from separate trucks used to pick up the material.

      No one hardly ever fucking talks about this. Cities now have fleets of diesel trucks driving around hauling this and hauling that, all in an effort to save the environment.

      Oh, and another thing: A 2013 consultant’s study presented to the City Council found that the greenhouse gas reductions from composting w

      Uhm, I’m no Earth Scientist, but it’s my understanding that the act of composting produces CO2, as all decaying plant material does.

      http://appliedmythology.blogsp…..mpost.html

      Most people think of composting as a very “green” thing to do, but few realize that composting actually generates a significant amount of the potent greenhouse gases (GHG), methane and nitrous oxide. Yes, composting is better than putting organic wastes into a landfill, but it is not the ideal way to handle large volume, organic waste-streams like animal manure. The better option is anaerobic digestion which I will describe at the end of this post.

      1. One of the first things Bloomberg did as NYC mayor was cancel 2/3 of the recycling bullshit, admitting it was a money-loser. It wasn’t long before it came back stronger – I can only imagine that he got a re-education on the issue.

        1. They never go away.

      2. Or you could keep compostible material in the waste stream and gather it in one place, e.g. the landfill, and tap the gas to make electricity. There’s a project doing that in the Lehigh Valley in PA that generates 10 megawatts from burning landfill gas.

      3. In many (most?) cases, using extra energy to recycle ends up not worth it (in the large-scale view). Anything you save from recycling gets canceled out.

        Aluminum is the exception; metal is pretty much always worthwhile to recycle. That’s why they pay you for it in large quantities. (Same for copper and such if you have a lot of it.)

  14. the approved composting equipment

    Oh FFS.

    Statists gonna state.

  15. Clearly a 4th amendment violation.

  16. So…AFAICT from the supplied refs, people who have a yard are expected to bury food waste, while apt. dwellers are to compost it in their apt. or hallway or…?! But then are they allowed to throw the compost in the garbage?

    Seems apt. occupants would be much better off paying the fine. So much so that it should be called a fee or tax rather than a fine.

  17. Leave it to government to fuck up waste.

  18. Let the beating of garbage collectors commence!

  19. It doesn’t cost $80 to compost. All you have to do is pile up the material and let mother nature take her course. If you want to be neater about it, a $10 trash can from Home Depot will do the trick. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Ott…../205198601 If you set up two of them, you can alternate – as one becomes full, you can set it aside and let it “cook” while you fill the other one. Cut a couple small holes (for liquid drainage) and throw some earth worms into the mix – viola! Premium compost material.

    Some entrepreneur ought to get the city to issue compost buckets – and pick up the compost material. Put it in bags and sell it at $5/bag.

    That said, I hate the nanny state and Seattle SUCKS as a place to live.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.