Clean your plate or you could get fined in Seattle.

Recycling has always been a passion of Brendan Spaar

When Brendan Spaar was a kid he remembers hearing people say, “Clean your plate. There are starving kids in China that would love to have this food”. Maybe that’s why the US is having a problem with obesity. Now there’s another problem facing people living in Seattle, Washington. Too much food/ compostable material in your garbage could get you fined if you live there.

Right now, people living in single-family homes are encouraged but not required to dispose of food waste and compostable paper products in compost bins. Apartment buildings must have compost bins available, but residents aren’t required to use them. That’s about to change next year.

Under the new Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) rules, collectors can take a quick 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 charged on the next garbage bill.

January 1, 2015, garbage collectors will start tagging garbage bins and dumpsters with warning tickets  when they find violations. They won’t start collecting fines until July 1. Seattle already banned recyclables from trash 9 years ago. This is taking it a step further in an effort to cut down on things going to the landfill.

Brendan Spaar doesn’t think people will be lining up to get the job of sifting through the trash. It’s going to be hard to enforce because in an apartment you don’t always know whose garbage belongs to what tenant. Instead of fining people for not composting maybe they should think about rewarding the ones that recycle by giving a discount on their bill.