Seattle single-family homes now recycle 70% of waste
The city of Seattle has hit an all-time high for recycling, according to Seattle Public Utilities.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle has set an all-time high for recycling, diverting 53.7 percent of its waste from landfills to recycling facilities or turning it into compost, according to a city report released Wednesday.
That number, for 2010, was 2.6 percentage points higher than in 2009. That's the largest increase since 2006, according to the report by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU).
SPU found commercial recycling increased the most. The rate moved from 54.9 percent in 2009 to 58.9 percent in 2010. A strong market for recycled paper accounts for most of the increase.
The single-family rate was 1.6 points higher, reaching 70.3 percent. Increased food-waste collection accounted for most of this increase.
SPU has a goal of diverting 60 percent of waste to recycling and composting by 2012. At that rate, the city will be saving $2 million in garbage disposal.
Changes in the city's curbside recycling and composting in 2009 were the biggest reasons for the recycling gains. That year, the city allowed more items to be recycled and made the pickup of compostable garbage weekly, rather than bi-weekly. Further, all recyclables were put in one cart, rather than two or three.
In addition, the city made it law that all takeout plates and cups from fast-food restaurants be compostable.
The city also allows residents to opt out of receiving yellow-page phone books and now requires mandatory food-waste collection for apartments and condominiums.
"Seattle's businesses and residents deserve a standing ovation for their steadfast commitment to recycling and composting," said Mayor Mike McGinn, in a news release. "Their efforts have made Seattle one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the nation."
Overall, Seattle deposited 335,000 tons of waste into a landfill in Oregon in 2010, 16,000 fewer tons than in 2009 and more than 140,000 tons less than the city sent in 2000. SPU said it costs Seattle nearly twice as much to send material to the landfill, 300 miles away, than to recycle it.
SPU said about half of the city's garbage is made up of recyclable or compostable material.
To reach the goals of diverting 60 percent of solid waste to recycling and composting by 2012 and 70 percent by 2025, Seattle residents will need to recycle and compost about 45,000 more tons a year, SPU said.
Other findings in the report:
• Nearly three times as many people now use the yard-waste carts as their main method of disposing of food waste, going from 25 percent in 2005 to 72 percent last year.
• Since 2007, self-haul yard waste dropped by 46 percent, from 14,257 tons to 7,682 tons. This is attributed to two factors: less demand for landscaping and yard-care services because of the economy and higher use of yard-waste containers.
Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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