- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2015

Seattle has become the first city in the country to start punishing residents caught throwing food away.

The law took effect on Jan. 1, but the city won’t actually start issuing fines until July. Right now, bright red “Scarlet Letter”-like tags are being slapped on violators’ cans in an effort to educate the public before fines are handed out, NPR reported.

“This is not at all intended to embarrass people or shame them,” Andy Ryan, a spokesman for Seattle Public Utilities, told Reuters. “It’s just part of our education process.”

Seattle provides households with garbage bins to fill with food and yard waste, which residents can leave outside to be picked up for a fee, NPR reported. Any household with more than 10 percent food in its garbage has violated the ordinance. Single household violators will pay $1 per violation, and multifamily and commercial buildings could be fined as much $50 for repeat offenses, NPR reported.

“We expect that people want to do the right thing — and will once they understand the law,” Mr. Ryan said.

Rodney Watkins, a lead driver for Recology CleanScapes, is on the front lines of enforcing the new rules.

“Right now, I’m tagging probably every fifth can,” he told NPR. “I don’t know if that’s just the holidays, or the fact that I’m actually paying a lot more attention.”

Seattle Public Utilities estimates that every household in the city puts out 400 pounds of food waste each year. The new law is meant to help the city increase its recycling and composting rate to 60 percent of all its waste, 4 percentage points above where it is now, NPR reported.

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