For the last 16 years, Seattle has looked for innovative ways to make it easy for residents and businesses to recycle. We've done a good job, and our city is recognized for our commitment to conserving natural resources.
But there is still more to be done.
America Recycles Day is this week, and it offers us a great opportunity to look at how well we're accomplishing our goals and what else we could be doing.
Despite our leadership position, the average Seattleite still generates nearly a half-ton of waste each year. We're recycling about 72,000 tons of material every year, but are still leaving 52,000 tons of recyclables in the garbage.
Recycling is critical to Seattle because it reduces waste, saves money, is good for the environment and will help keep our region clean for years to come.
It's also something that every individual, organization and business can do to keep our region beautiful.
The public, the City Council and I want to improve on the city's recycling record and increase the opportunities for residents and businesses to recycle. Our goal is to recycle 60 percent of our waste.
In December 2003, we passed an ordinance mandating that recyclable paper and cardboard will no longer be accepted in commercial garbage collection. In addition, recyclable paper, cardboard, aluminum, tin, glass and plastic bottles and jars will no longer be allowed in residential garbage. The new ordinance goes into effect Jan. 1, 2005.
The implementation of the ordinance will be in phases. First, business and residents who place significant amounts of recyclable material in their garbage collection will receive educational notices. Then, in 2006, repeated notices may be followed with fines for businesses, additional charges for multi-family accounts, and delayed garbage collection for residents.
In the coming year, residents and businesses will receive more services to help them recycle. There will be more frequent pickup of yard waste, as well as new yard-waste carts that will soon enable the collection of compostable paper and vegetable waste.
Food-industry businesses will have access to a food-recycling program, and free, biweekly curbside recycling will be available to all businesses.
If you have any questions about these or other city services that can help you recycle, please call 684-3000 or visit www.seattle.gov/util.
With your help, we can ensure that Seattle continues to be a great place to live and do business.