As detailed by CBS News, the food waste law was introduced to reduce the amount of garbage sent to landfills — it orders residents to sort their trash so that as much as possible can be recycled or composted. Commercial properties receive a $50 fine for each offense, whereas single family homes are hit with a $1 punishment — but do it enough times and that can add up.
Although the financial penalties seem slight, offenders suffer the greater cost of humiliation with neighbors as their trash cans are also labeled with glowing red tags that provide information about the rule to prevent it from happening again. Since instating the mandate, the City of Seattle website reports that 125,000 tons of food has been redistributed every year and turned into compost for community parks, which helps to benefit the community and reduce pollution.
The EPA also believes that Seattle’s food waste approach has been successful, leading to recycling increases of 30.1% — and furthermore noting that trash reduction continues to improve as the population grows.