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Food Scraps and Compostable Paper are Resources

230,864 tons were disposed of at the landfill in 2008

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King County Waste Stream Graph

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What's in your garbage?

Eighty percent of materials thrown away are resources – not waste.

What is it?

Food scraps are unwanted cooking preparation and table scraps, including items (PDF, 29 K) such as banana peels, apple cores, vegetable trimmings, bones, egg shells, meat and pizza crust. Compostable paper, sometimes called food soiled paper, usually comes from the kitchen and is not appropriate for paper recycling due to its contamination. Materials such as stained pizza boxes, uncoated paper cups and plates, used coffee filters, paper food cartons, napkins and paper towels are all compostable paper and great for recycling in the yard waste container.

Why recycle food scraps?

In the landfill, food and soiled paper is a wasted resource. As these materials and other organics decompose they generate harmful greenhouse gases such as methane. When food and soiled paper are composted at a compost facility this causes an aerobic process (oxygen) Both food scraps and food soiled paper can compost very well into a soil amendment that is valuable to soil and plant health.

You may be putting your vegetative materials in a worm bin and that is another great alternative. However, technological advances now allow safe collection and processing, and nearly 100% of King County now has curbside collection of food scraps mixed with yard waste where materials are made into compost by Cedar Grove Composting (external).

What can you do?

  • Almost 100% of residents in King County can now recycle all their food and food-soiled paper in yard waste bins. This includes meat, cheese, bones, fruit, vegetables trimmings, bread and pastas and food soiled products. Check the Recycle Food. It’s Easy To Do. section of the site to find out if your area is included. If your area is not listed, please check back as more areas are being added continually.
  • For vegetative waste only, consider a worm bin.
  • If you are a business, ask your city if collection is an option or consider setting up an on-site composting system.

Related Information

  • What happens to my recyclables? Materials collected for recycling in King County become new products, many of them manufactured locally. This 10-minute video shows how the recycling loop works: from collection to remanufacture to new product.
  • Recycle More. It's Easy To Do. Although most King County residents say they participate in their curbside recycling program, more than half of what ends up in the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill is readily recyclable.
  • King County’s Zero Waste program is a guiding principle for all waste reduction and recycling programs.

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Updated: Feb. 26, 2015

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