Seattle considers bold step to curb waste

Tri-City HeraldApril 15, 2012 

The city of Seattle is thinking of reducing the number of trash pickup days.

If it goes to picking up every other week, it saves the city somewhere around $6 million a year.

It also could mean 1,400 tons of waste NOT going into the landfill.

The EPA estimates there are 3,091 operating landfills. There are also upwards of 10,000 old dump sites, and 330 million tons get added annually.

It all adds up. Shopping bags, 300,000 tons annually. And 95 percent of shoes end up in the ground. Of every 100 pounds of waste, 35 pounds is in some form of paper product.

The issue for the cities, of course, is reducing costs. Time is money. The issue is true in landfills, too. The issue is time in space which leads to money.

While this stuff sits there rotting away, the components that make these items up slowly break down. Groundwater running beneath these areas pick up some of the residue. This then winds up back in the water supply and needs to be filtered out. Not only is there cost in this filtering, but countless wells are being drilled to monitor the rate of leaching. Some of the older sites are going to require wholesale remediation.

So, Seattle may be one of the largest metro areas to try to halt some of this. Less convenience to merely throw away may result in more recycling. It's a simple rule but all too true -- the more room you allocate to storage, the more stuff you'll have.

In this case, with less trash pickup time, the more the conscience of recycling will be raised. If there is more reuse going on, maybe less landfill space will be required.

It's a daring proposition, but the tables could be turned from more space and more waste to less waste, less space.

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