Councilmember O'Brien left office on December 31, 2019. This website is for archival purposes only and is no longer updated.

Next Steps for Zero Waste – Join me at GreenFest tomorrow morning

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In 2007, under the leadership of my colleague Council President Richard Conlin, the Council passed resolution 30990, setting the goal of recycling 60% of Seattle’s Waste Stream by 2015, and 70% by 2025. The city has taken important steps along this path over the past two years, including expanding organic food waste service and and implementing a ban sytrofoam food service ware, which goes into effect July 1. 

As chair of the Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee, I am working closely with Seattle Public Utilities and my colleagues to determine what’s next for zero waste.

I’ve also been watching other cities and states around the country take on the same issue.  In January, Washington DC’s 5 cent fee on disposable paper and plastic bags went into effect. Initial reports are that residents are taking it in stride.

Just yesterday, the California State Assembly passed a bill that would ban disposable plastic bags and place a 5 cent fee on paper bags.  These are exciting steps. 

Here in Seattle, Councilmember Licata recently asked readers what they thought about bag bans and fees and we look forward to learning what he heard.

Though bags are on the front of everyone’s mind, we’ve establish five other priorities for 2010-2011 including strategies to reduce waste from phone books and exploring a food waste composting option for multi-family buildings. 

We will also look at strategies to create markets for construction and demolition waste, used carpet and commercial plastic film, each of which represents a significant piece of the commercial waste stream.

The zero waste strategy is an important piece of our work on the path towards carbon neutrality.  While I am often writing about the large infrastructure projects that underpin much of our carbon emissions, we also need to continue implementing policies support everyday actions — like composting food waste, opting out of an unwanted paper phone book or bringing a reusable bag to the grocery store — that we can all take to reduce our carbon footprint.

Zero Waste Seattle will be at GreenFest this weekend, helping to get folks organized to make these actions happen.  I will join then at 11am on Saturday to share these Council priorities.  Please join us then, or find their booth throughout the weekend and sign up to help!

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