Be honest: Have you been composting your table scraps? If not, it may be time to start. This year Seattle Public Utilities will crack down on people who dump too much food in the trash, and it will begin handing out fines later this year. But don’t get too comfy—warnings start January 1. Let’s dive into the composting process, shall we?


How Big Is Your Bin?


How Is Compost Made?

1. Material arrives at the composting facility, is screened for contaminants (mainly plastic), and then ground up.

2. Material then moves to one of eight zones, where it cures for two weeks.

3. Next stop, the mass bed, an 84,600-square-foot pile of almost-compost that's turned and watered for another 60 days.

4. After a final screening, the compost is ready for sale.

“The point isn’t to raise revenue. We care more about reminding people to separate their materials.” 
—Tim Croll, SPU's solid waste director

id You Know?

  • Lenz Enterprises, one of Seattle's two composters, fills five 48-foot trailers at SPU's transfer station every day.
  • As microbes break down the material, temps can reach 150 degrees. Without cooling fans and regular water, the piles would burst into flames.

  • SPU will spend $700,000 on education, outreach, and marketing for the new law.

  • There will be a $1 fine per offense for single-family homes not composting table scraps, starting July 1. (The maximum allowable amount of compost in your trash, by volume, is 9%.)


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