Seattle considering fines for not separating trash

SEATTLE -- Fines could be on the way for those who do not separate their food waste and compostable paper from the trash, according to Seattle Public Utilities. The city is considering a plan that would include the fee as part of an effort to increase recycling citywide.

“It is just a matter of putting it in the right bin," said Tim Croll with Seattle Public Utilities.

Under the proposal, homeowners caught not separating compostable items could have a $1 fine added to their bill. Businesses and apartment buildings with dumpsters would receive two warnings and then a $50 fine.

"That's the key at the end of the day; we are just trying to make the planet a little bit better for the next generation," said assistant coffee shop manager Edwin Depner.

At His Word Found Here bible and coffee shop, employees bag up the coffee grounds which are then used as compost. There are also several bins for customers to properly sort their trash. Depner said he’s unsure how the city would enforce the proposed policy.

"How do you police something that really is on a day-to-day choice of the individual,” said Depner.

As part of the plan, Croll said businesses would not be fined for the actions of customers, but they are encouraged to educate customers about sorting their trash. Croll added the city already has similar fines in place for those who don’t recycle, which are used as more of a deterrent and rarely handed out.

As part of the proposal, there would also be an increase in marketing and education to inform people about the changes.

The city is aiming to increase the recycle rate to 60% by 2015. Last year, it was at 56.2%.

Ultimately, it will be up to the City Council to approve the plan.