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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: City of Seattle's statement on food waste ban lawsuit

7/20/2015  1:30:00 PM
Seattle Public Utilities: Emily Reardon,
(206) 615-1159 or
24/7 Media Pager: (206) 997-5972
Kimberly Mills  (206) 684-8602

The Seattle City Attorney’s Office and Seattle Public Utilities released the following statement regarding the recent food waste ban lawsuit:

“The Seattle City Attorney’s Office has reviewed the Pacific Legal Foundation complaint. We believe that SPU’s program requiring its customers to separate recyclables and compostable materials from ordinary garbage fully complies with the law, including the enhanced privacy protections afforded by the Washington constitution.

Seattle Public Utilities said, “Seattle has a notable and long history of voluntary composting of food and yard waste, and the latest food waste ordinance is an expansion of what the people of Seattle have already been doing.

“Seattle residents support the composting requirement. A 2014 survey showed support of 74% in favor of to 11% opposed to such a requirement. And SPU’s data shows that the new requirement has already resulted in thousands of additional tons of food waste being diverted from the landfill already this year. Diverting waste from the landfill reduces climate change, and is important to Seattle, our environmental values, and our goal of zero waste.

“Cities across the nation monitor garbage cans for proper disposal of materials for both safety and to meet recycling goals. In Seattle, this now includes observation for food and yard waste requirement compliance.

“SPU believes the instructions we’ve given to our collectors upholds the Washington State Constitution and civil liberties. There is no intention of opening trash bags. Containers are only tagged if the contamination is clearly visible. The guidelines state: if you can’t see, don’t report it and don’t tag it.

“Seattle customers should continue to place food, yard waste and compostable paper in their compost collection containers. The composting requirement is a necessary step in meeting the city’s goal of 60% recycling. Seattle is the latest of several cities that have passed food waste composting requirements, including Vancouver, BC, and San Francisco, CA.”

The City will respond to the allegations of the complaint at the appropriate time.

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