Since 2005, homeowners in Seattle have enjoyed residential curbside yard and food waste pickup – just one area in which our city is ahead of the pack in environmental matters. For Seattleites who live in apartments or condos however, there’s no guarantee you’ll have the option. Here in Capitol Hill, as in much of the city, public composting is a hit-or-miss affair: some apartments have it, some don’t.
Fortunately, if you’re not a homeowner and can’t stand seeing your food scraps going into the garbage every week, there are some options open to you. If there are houses on your block, then you know food and yard scrap composting is available nearby. The simplest option may be to share a compost bin with a neighbor who doesn’t fill it every week. Since there’s a nominal fee for city composting, offering to split the $4-$8 monthly cost may turn your neighbors on to a sharing arrangement.
If splitting a compost bin isn’t your style – or simply isn’t practical for you – there’s still hope. Seattle Public Utilities suggests you talk to your building manager or owner to discuss multi-family food waste options. Before you do – and recruiting other like-minded people in your apartment will strengthen your case – here’s what you should know:
Seattle Public Utilities allows apartments to choose curbside or alley pickup, which is less expensive, or on-site service, which is more convenient. SPU offers containers ranging in size from 32 to 96 gallons, and charges $6.50 a month for a 32-gallon curbside pickup up to $59.48 for on-site pickup of a 96-gallon cart. Additionally, SPU allows building managers to become a Friend of Recycling and Composting (FORC) steward. These stewards educate residents about recycling and composting and monitors waste to ensure compliance. Managers who become FORC stewards are eligible to receive a $100 discount on their solid waste bill and can learn more here. If you’re getting ready to make the case to your building manager, this SPU flyer helps lay out the case for food and yard waste collection.
On the fence yourself? With a minimum of effort you can contribute to a program that has huge, proven environmental benefits. In 2006, Seattle sent 47.5 percent of its waste to recycling facilities instead of landfills—a momentous achievement, to be sure, but we can do better. Today, Seattle’s compost goes to Cedar Grove Composting facilities in Maple Valley or Everett. Since 1989, they have diverted over 4 million metric tons from landfills and prevented 3.72 million metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Once ready, the compost is then made available to Seattle residents for home use or given to charitable organizations like Seattle Tilth.
So grab a flyer, organize your apartment neighbors, and help Seattle keep as much compostable waste out of landfills as possible.