Green Tip: Food Scrap Recycling

Begin food scrap recycling now! Here’s a tip from Dr. Lynn Mikel in our Community Pod.

Those of you who recycle through King County Waste Management are now allowed to recycle food scraps in yard waste containers. Keep a small covered container in a convenient location near or in your kitchen (i.e. under the sink or out in the garage) to collect kitchen food scraps. Use a container that has a tight fitting lid and empty it into your yard waste container every other day or so.

To avoid odor and fruit flies; empty the container regularly, wrap food scraps in newspaper, rinse container frequently, line container with used paper bag or towel, sprinkle with baking soda or layer with shredded paper. By the way the yard waste bin is the only way you can recycle shredded paper. If you put it in the regular recycling bin it actually contaminates the other recyclables. The paper fibers in shredded paper are too short to be recycled, so they’re just garbage. When shredded paper gets into a batch of recycled items, often the whole load ends up in the garbage because it’s too hard to clean up.

Food scraps include fruits, vegetables, grains, bread, egg shells, nut shells, coffee grounds and filters, vegetable and fruit leftovers, tea leaves and bags, meat and dairy products [yogurt, cheese, etc.). Soiled paper like pizza delivery boxes, paper towels and napkins, uncoated (not shiny) paper plates, cups, paper (not plastic) food wrap, food bags, grocery bags, egg cartons, and paper berry cartons. No plastic, no grease or liquids, no pet litter or waste, no diapers, no soil, no rocks, no stumps, no lumber, no metal no glass and no hazardous waste. Waste Management has a flyer that shows what you can and can’t put in the yard waste bin. Contamination increases the cost of recycling, if in doubt do not recycle, throw it in the regular garbage.

While I prepare dinner I open up a few pages of yesterday’s paper and set it near the sink. As I clean lettuce or prepare vegetables and fruit, the peelings, core or wilted leaves go on the newspaper. While food is cooking, I clean up by folding up the food scraps put them in a small covered container in our garage (under the sink works too). The newspaper keeps the odor down and container fairly clean. I empty this into the yard waste recycling bin every couple days. No odor, little mess and we’re starting to see our garbage container at least 30% less full! You might even be able to save money by using a smaller garbage can. “Think globally act locally!” Everything we do helps so enjoy the process of making a difference and start now!

Waste Management in Burien collects food scrapes now. The city of Seattle will require food recycling in 2009 and will provide a specific container for this purpose. Check with your service provider to see what their rules are.

We have more information in the Recycling Section of our Links and Resources page and in our Tips Archive.