It’s easy being green

By Bobby Coleman

Sustainability Supervisor, SHA

Editor’s note: Each quarter, The Voice asks sustainability experts at Seattle Housing Authority to identify the most pressing issues in recycling and garbage services. If you have questions about recycling, composting or other environmental topics, send them to GreenQuestions@seattlehousing.org. We might feature and answer your question in the next column.

Greetings Readers! As part of our ongoing series about how residents can become more knowledgeable about recycling, composting and other environmental topics, this month we’re focusing on why we have to compost our food waste, who hauls away garbage and recycling, and what to do with foil tops and lids.

Q: Why does Seattle prohibit food and yard waste from the garbage?
A: Based on the success of Seattle’s existing recycling and yard waste ordinances, the city projected that the food waste requirement would divert an additional 38,000 tons of food scraps from the landfill via composting.
Before the ordinance, Seattle sent approximately 100,000 tons of food waste 300 miles to a landfill in eastern Oregon each year. This resulted in higher costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
Today, Seattle sends more than 125,000 tons of food and yard waste to composting processors. The material is now turned into compost for local parks and gardens.

Q: Who hauls my garbage and recycling?
A: This is a common question we receive from folks living in developments owned or managed by SHA – your garbage and food waste are most definitely hauled by SHA’s very own Solid Waste division, while your recycling is usually hauled away by a vendor (like Waste Management or Recology CleanScapes). SHA Solid Waste is a small team which does a big job – just 10 solid waste workers and laborers collect more than 4,000 garbage and food waste containers on a weekly basis!

Q: Are foil tops from large yogurt containers recyclable?
A: The foil tops from large yogurt containers are garbage – even if they are clean, and should not be recycled.

Q: Can I recycle lids?
Plastic, nylon and metal lids larger than three inches in diameter can be recycled. Tin can lids must stay hooked to the can and be pushed down inside the can, if a tin can lid is completely removed from the can, put it in the garbage. Plastic caps should be screwed tightly onto empty plastic bottles and jugs and recycled.

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