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Seattle government now going through citizensí trash for public shaming, revenue
Hot Air ^ | January 27, 2015 | Mary Katharine Ham

Posted on 01/27/2015 8:42:00 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet

Sure, the incentive to compost is the putative reason for this regulation, but exactly how is it enforced? In order for city officials and trash collectors to know you have committed the civic sin of disposing of leftover food in your trashcan, they have to examine the contents of your trashcan. Let’s hope the citizens of Seattle and trash collectors can come to some kind of silent truce over this. Do they collectors really want to examine every load they dump into the truck for transgressions? (Lord help us, the city probably offers a bonus of taxpayer money for tagging violators.)

In Seattle, wasting food will now earn you a scarlet letter — well, a scarlet tag, to be more accurate.

The bright red tag, posted on a garbage bin, tells everyone who sees it that you’ve violated a new city law that makes it illegal to put food into trash cans.

“I’m sure neighbors are going to see these on their other neighbors’ cans,” says Rodney Watkins, a lead driver for Recology CleanScapes, a waste contractor for the city. He’s on the front lines of enforcing these rules.

Seattle is the first city in the nation to fine homeowners for not properly sorting their garbage. The law took effect on Jan. 1 as a bid to keep food out of landfills. Other cities like San Francisco and Vancouver mandate composting, but don’t penalize homeowners directly.

As Watkins made the rounds in Maple Leaf, a residential neighborhood of Seattle, earlier this month, he appeared disheartened to find an entire red velvet cake in someone’s trash bin. Any household with more than 10 percent food in its garbage earns a bright red tag notifying it of the infraction.

So, the collectors not only have to examine your trash, but examine it closely enough to determine if 10 percent of it amounts to food. NPR’s reporting disputes my assumption, but what the collector is really saying below is he’s either painstakingly rifling through trash cans or ignoring the 10-percent rule and profligately offering tags and fines. Neither is good:

Watkins doesn’t have to comb through the trash — the forbidden items are plain to see.

“You can see all the oranges and coffee grounds,” he says, raising one lid. “All that makes great compost. You can put that in your compost bin and buy it back next year in a bag and put it in your garden.”

Seattle added a new law because it wants to meet its recycling and reduction goals, but has been unable to with existing, extremely stringent laws. So, you know.

Food waste is both an economic and environmental burden. Transporting the waste, especially for distances as far as Seattle does, is costly. So too is allowing it to sit out in the open, where it produces methane, one of the most harmful greenhouses gases, as it rots. The second largest component of landfills in the United States is organic waste, and landfills are the single largest source of methane gas.

I’m not saying the goal isn’t worthy. If you’d like to encourage this behavior or do a public awareness campain, fine. But at what cost does this kind of enforcement come? This town is no doubt populated with people who were extremely worried the PATRIOT Act would meant their mail would be read by George Bush or something*. But giving random city officials the right to quantify your trash? No problem.

Strange how city governments so seldom offer a financial incentive to families who might choose to have their Biore strips and old prophylactics and chicken wings examined by their local councilmen instead of just financially punishing everyone who doesn’t. They say compost and recycling. What they mean is compulsion and revenue.

*For the record, I have my own issues with NSA surveillance and metadata dragnetting, which are intellectually consistent with my reaction to this story.


TOPICS: Gardening; Government; Politics; Weird Stuff
KEYWORDS: foodwaste; garbage; recycling; redtag; rodneywatkins; seattle; shaming; solidwaste; trash; washington; waste
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Mr. Bush hasn't been president for a long time now.
1 posted on 01/27/2015 8:42:00 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

LOL...if they wanted to poke through my trash, I could make that far more interesting to them...:)


2 posted on 01/27/2015 8:44:06 PM PST by rlmorel ("National success by the Democratic Party equals irretrievable ruin." Ulysses S. Grant)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Seattle is probably one of those places- you choose to olive there, you probably belong there.


3 posted on 01/27/2015 8:44:14 PM PST by arthurus (It's true!)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
I would be ashamed NOT to have the red tag.

Absence of a red tag means you are a mindless sheep who would do anything the government says. Compost my coffee grounds? Why, I would love to, sir! Take the Jews to the gas chamber? Jah vol main herr!

4 posted on 01/27/2015 8:45:33 PM PST by ClearCase_guy (Malort, turning taste-buds into taste-foes for generations.)
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To: arthurus

Yep, I’m sure they are all in for the BS.


5 posted on 01/27/2015 8:45:38 PM PST by doc1019 (Blue lives matter)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Put a couple of pigs in the back yard. No more problems.

oh, wait

When I was young and dumb, my village made a rule that all garbage bags must be clear, see through plastic. Rationale now explained.

Older and wise now.

6 posted on 01/27/2015 8:45:53 PM PST by onona (Obama's entire term reads like a John Semmens post.)
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To: ClearCase_guy

Mein autocorrect nein sprechen zee Deutsch.


7 posted on 01/27/2015 8:46:46 PM PST by ClearCase_guy (Malort, turning taste-buds into taste-foes for generations.)
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To: onona

When I lived on an acreage we BURNED all our trash in a pit next to the chicken coop. The horrors!


8 posted on 01/27/2015 8:47:34 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet (The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Solution? Compost on the City Hall Steps


9 posted on 01/27/2015 8:47:51 PM PST by dila813
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

So, sink garbage disposal units will be working overtime.


10 posted on 01/27/2015 8:52:51 PM PST by doc1019 (Blue lives matter)
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To: dila813

Dump the compost in Seattle’s Harbor...that’ll freak the greenies


11 posted on 01/27/2015 8:53:43 PM PST by goodnesswins (I think we've reached PEAK TYRANNY now.....)
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To: arthurus
"Seattle is probably one of those places- you choose to olive there, you probably belong there."

Some of us were born here and had reached middle-age by the time it became what it is now.
12 posted on 01/27/2015 8:54:03 PM PST by Steve_Seattle
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

“So too is allowing it to sit out in the open, where it produces methane, one of the most harmful greenhouses gases, as it rots.

Um, doesn’t composting it do basically the same thing? Decomposing bacteria is decomposing bacteria, in a trash can or a compost heap.

“The second largest component of landfills in the United States is organic waste, and landfills are the single largest source of methane gas.”

And many landfills harvest that gas to provide energy for the landfill and nearby areas. (Learned that one on Penn and Tellers’ show “Bullbleep!”)


13 posted on 01/27/2015 8:54:10 PM PST by DemforBush (I don't want any communists in my car!)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Silent truce? Bureaucrats, especially totalitarian minded ones like Rodney Watkins don't give up easily.. Since when did we give this small minded fan of Kim Jong-un the right to say what 'wasted food' is?
14 posted on 01/27/2015 8:54:45 PM PST by BigEdLB (Now there ARE 1,000,000 regrets - but it may be too late.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I’d be a slinging me some trash at some public officials houses. Better yet embarrass the Iron Fisted Tyrants even more by just taking it out and dumping it in the streets somewhere. Let them guess where it all came from.


15 posted on 01/27/2015 8:55:02 PM PST by cva66snipe ((Two Choices left for U.S. One Nation Under GOD or One Nation Under Judgment? Which one say ye?))
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
... a waste contractor for the city. He’s on the front lines of enforcing these rules.

"Yeah, I'm in waste management."

16 posted on 01/27/2015 8:55:38 PM PST by Albion Wilde (It is better to offend a human being than to offend God.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

So, instead of telling your Kids to take out the Trash, hand them a Shovel and tell them to go bury it.


17 posted on 01/27/2015 8:56:02 PM PST by Kickass Conservative (If you think the Mulatto Marxist is bad, just wait until the Menopausal Marxist shows up.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I’ve composed and deleted three replies and all of them would land me in..... deep, cold, coastal waters, down deep where the crab feed.


18 posted on 01/27/2015 8:57:07 PM PST by txhurl (RINOs: conservatives aren't electable yet they disguise themselves as conservatives to win.)
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To: rlmorel

“LOL...if they wanted to poke through my trash, I could make that far more interesting to them...:)”

Oh man, the possibilities are endless! Fake body parts, really stinky food designed to induce upchucking(I’m thinking a nice, ripe durian with a balut topping will do the trick), etc.


19 posted on 01/27/2015 8:57:18 PM PST by DemforBush (I don't want any communists in my car!)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I still burn most of my combustibles. I compost food scraps, dryer lint, some paper plates and paper towels. Take the newspapers and magazines to the schools paper drive.

I only have about 1 white kitchen garbage bag of trash every month or two. Toss that in the dumpster at my favorite watering hole.


20 posted on 01/27/2015 8:58:00 PM PST by digger48
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