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Recycling Reconsidered

Sam Eaton
01/16/2002

Recyclers from across the nation have gathered in Seattle this week to find ways to boost a slumping recycling industry. Seattle’s recycling rate… like many other US cities… has been dropping. And as KUOW’s Sam Eaton reports… that’s causing city officials to rethink what they consider recyclable.

ORDER FRENCH-FRIES AT RAYS BOATHOUSE IN SEATTLE AND YOU CAN REST EASY THAT THE SKINS FROM THE POTATOES WILL BE RE-USED AS COMPOST IN SOMEBODY’S GARDEN. THAT’S BECAUSE OF A SIMPLE FOOD WASTE RECYCLING PROGRAM THAT TAKES PLACE BEHIND THE SCENES HERE. SOUS CHEF TOM OLSEN EXPLAINS… We’re in the vegetable prep area in the back kitchen and the way it works is you have a separate container just for vegetable waste and when you’re peeling potatoes you just go straight into it. SIMPLE AS IT SOUNDS, FEW RESTAURANTS HAVE ADOPTED THIS KIND OF PROGRAM. BUT WITH FOOD WASTE ACCOUNTING FOR A QUARTER OF THE GARBAGE GENERATED BY BUSINESSES, SEATTLE PUBLIC UTILITIES ACTING DIRECTOR CHUCK CLARKE HOPES THAT WILL CHANGE. What this is is kind of a wake up call to us that we need to really get aggressive on new ways of doing business. New ways of providing assistance to the business community for commercial recycling. CLARKE HAS BEEN WORKING WITH KING COUNTY TO SET UP A JOINT VENTURE IN FOOD WASTE RECYCLING. HE’S ALSO LOOKING INTO WAYS TO RE-USE MORE CONSTRUCTION WASTE AND RECYCLE THOSE PESKY DIRTY PIZZA BOXES. So if we can add other kinds of products that can be recycled, all of a sudden we will again be able to increase our recycling rates. AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT’S HAPPENING AT RAY’S BOATHOUSE. (NAT SOUND) BEHIND THE KITCHEN TOM OLSEN POINTS TO A SINGLE TRASH DUMPSTER WEDGED BETWEEN DOZENS OF RECYCLING BINS. If we had to throw away all this garbage, the garbage bin would probably be twice as big and we’d have to dump it everyday. OLSEN SAYS BY RECYCLING, RAY’S HAS REDUCED ITS WASTE BY MORE THAN 70-PERCENT. AND THAT SHOWS ON THE BOTTOM LINE. HE SAYS THEY SAVE ABOUT 20-THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR IN GARBAGE BILLS. SAM EATON, KUOW, 94.9, PUBLIC RADIO.
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