According to this NY Times article, Seattle is leading the nation when it comes to recycling. It is among a growing number of cities, particularly on the West Coast, who do curbside collection of food scraps mixed with yard waste; this mixture is delivered to a high-tech composting facility, Cedar Grove Organics, and two months later the results will be sold at garden supply stores by the bag.
â€œThis is the cool side of trash,â€ Cedar Groveâ€™s founder, Steve Banchero, said of the process, which is on recyclingâ€™s cutting edge.
The company, the major composter in this area, will soon have much more trash coming its way because Seattle is making food waste yet another mandatory recycling ingredient in its already long list.
â€œThe food-waste issue is the new frontier for recycling advocates,â€ said Kate Krebs, the executive director of the National Recycling Coalition. â€œItâ€™s the next big chunk.â€
Seattle now recycles 44 percent of its trash, compared with the national average of around 30 percent, which makes it a major player in big-city waste recovery. Its goal, city waste management officials said, is to reach 60 percent by 2012 and 72 percent by 2025.
Obviously, a key element for the success of recycling programs is the creation and nurturing of markets for recycled materials:
Waste paper is now commanding about $90 a ton throughout the United States, which makes it possible to turn a profit by loading it onto ships instead of dumping it into landfills.
Not to sell it â€œwould be like burying money,â€ said Chaz Miller of the Environmental Industry Associations, which represents the private waste service industry. Because of that, collecting paper for recycling is at an all-time high.
God forbid anyone should accuse us New Yorkers of “burying money”… but according to my source at the Department of Sanitation, New York City is only recycling a fraction of the paper we could be. Here are the “mixed paper” items that New Yorkers can recycle:
- white, colored, and glossy paper (staples OK)
- mail and envelopes (window envelopes OK)
- wrapping paper (remove ribbon and tape)
- smooth cardboard (food boxes â€” remove inside & outside plastic wrappers â€” shoe boxes, tubes from paper towel and toilet paper rolls, cardboard from product packaging)
- paper bags
- cardboard egg cartons and trays
- newspapers, magazines, and catalogs
- phone books, softcover books (paperbacks, comic books, etc.; no spiral bindings)
- corrugated cardboard (flattened boxes)
But when will WE be able to recycle OUR food scraps? I’m getting really tired of the West Coast kicking our a** when it comes to sustainability!