SeattlePi reports that the City Council is expected soon to approve the Zero Waste Strategy, aimed at helping the city dramatically increase the city‘s recycling rate — to 72 percent by 2025 — and decrease the amount of garbage it sends to the dump. The council‘s Environment, Emergency Management and Utilities Committee approved the plan Tuesday.
Under the proposal, a typical customer‘s $21.55 monthly bill will increase to $22.90 a month, starting in 2008. Later this year, the council is expected to consider the 6.2 percent rate increase for most city garbage customers. The typical garbage bill increased by $2.60 in the past 10 years, according to a report to the council committee Tuesday.
The city spends about $23 million each year to send 900 million pounds of garbage to a landfill in Arlington, Ore. Shifting to the Zero Waste plan would add to some of the city‘s garbage and recycling costs in the first few years, while reducing other costs, according to a city central staff report.
“Although the long-term waste reduction may well lead to lower city costs than would otherwise be incurred, in the near term, costs (and rates) would increase to pay for new waste-reduction actions and rebuilt facilities,” the report said.
“It is difficult to untangle the financial costs,” said Councilman Richard Conlin, who proposed the Zero Waste plan. “I believe in the long run, we will reduce our costs.”
Right away, the city hopes to save about $60 million that it was considering spending on a new garbage transfer station near Georgetown. However, the city‘s North and South Recycling and Disposal stations still need to be upgraded and expanded, at a total cost of about $115 million.
The city will study products that could be potentially banned in the city, such as plastic grocery bags, disposable water bottles and plastic foam. Councilwoman Sally Clark said there have been mixed messages about different types of bags and recycle policies. The proposed rate increase also will help cover customer service improvements, a $200,000 pilot program to study recycling options in city parks and increases in debt service and taxes.