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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

January 13, 2015 at 7:20 AM

Compost confusion? We’ll answer your questions

recycle-2

UPDATE 11:58 am: Some of the easier questions are answered below (scroll down). The trickier ones will be answered in a new post.

Original post: Mandatory composting rules took effect for Seattle on Jan. 1, but many of us aren’t sure exactly what those rules are. We know food scraps are compostable; so are pizza boxes, paper towels and napkins. But what about other items? Bioplastic meat trays are compostable, but Styrofoam trays are not. Paper bags go in the compost bucket if they are dirty, but clean paper bags should be recycled.

Residents have a six-month grace period to make mistakes — violators will only get warnings. But come July, $1 fines will be added to residential violators’ utility bills, if collectors notice more than 10 percent of items in the garbage are misplaced (the fine is $50 for apartment complexes).

Tell us what items stump you, no matter how big or small, and we’ll get back to you with answers. In the meantime, take a look at the city’s list of what’s accepted.

 

Answers:

  • corks – garbage
  • olive pits – compost
  • wax-coated milk and juice cartons – recycle (they must be washed out – you cannot compost them)
  • Ziploc bags – garbage (or reuse them)
  • cake frosting bags – garbage
  • dirty aluminium foil – garbage (you can recycle aluminium foil if it’s clean)
  • produce bags – garbage (or reuse)
  • produce stickers – garbage
  • bottle caps – garbage
  • jar lids (at least 3 inches) – recycle (smaller ones go in the garbage)
  • plastic screw tops – garbage (if smaller than 3 inches; if larger, they can be recycled)
  • “clear plastic tubs that deli salads come in” – recycle
  • shredded paper – recycle if in long shreds; confetti or cross-cut shreds are compost
  • Starbucks cups (or any paper coffee cup) – recycle; it must be rinsed
  • Starbucks lids – recycle; they meet the 3 inch rule
  • plastic utensils – garbage
  • dirty Chinese takeout boxes, with waxy coating – garbage
  • cardboard take-out boxes with thin plastic lining on the inside – garbage
  • dirty paper plates, no shiny coating – compost
  • dirty paper plates, shiny coating – garbage
  • clean paper plates – recycle
  • hearing aid batteries – garbage, or bring to recycling location
  • dead chicken – garbage, or bury it (at the request of a reader, I’m clarifying that this is in fact a whole dead animal, not just the chicken meat).

Comments | More in Environment, General news | Topics: compost, recycling, trash

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