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October Recycling Tip: Don’t let Your Food Go to Waste

The average family in King County throws away nine pounds of food every week, adding up to nearly 400 pounds every year. As a result, more than one-third of the County’s garbage is made up of food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard debris—the largest percentage of the waste stream.  When you recycle food scraps rather than throwing them in the garbage, they are turned into nutrient-rich compost for local gardens and parks. There are two ways to recycle food: with your garbage hauler in your compostables cart or by composting in your backyard.

Establish a system

You can recycle all your food scraps and food soiled paper in your hauler-supplied, curbside compostables cart.  There are several sizes available. Waste Management customers should contact City of Auburn Utilities  at 253-931-3038 and Republic Services customers should contact Republic Services  at 206-682-9735 to order service.

Some food scraps can also be composted right in your backyard with a worm bin. Worms turn kitchen scraps into high-quality compost for your garden. There are several options for worm bins from buying one to making your own, visit King County’s website for more information.

Find the best kitchen container for you

Food scrap collection can be as simple as using a plastic container or a paper bag which can be recycled along with the food. Containers designed specifically for food scrap recycling now come in a variety of styles from stainless steel to ceramic to bamboo and are locally available in many stores.

Gather it all up

If you are recycling your food waste in your yard waste cart the food scraps that can be recycled include meat, fish, bones, vegetable and fruit trimmings, bread, pasta and beans, egg shells and coffee grounds. You can also put in food-soiled paper such as used paper towels, napkins, coffee filters, and even pizza delivery boxes. 

If you are recycling in your backyard worm bin, feed your worms vegetable and fruit remains, coffee and tea grounds, moldy bread, grains and cereals. Cut scraps into small, one-inch, pieces for softer digestion and faster composting. Don’t feed your worms meat, dairy products, fats or oils as they may attract pests.  Products marked “compostable” only break down in commercial composting systems, so they should not go in your worm bin.

Avoid the “ick”

If you’re concerned about odors or fruit flies, place your food scraps in a closed paper bag or store in the refrigerator or freezer until collection day. Empty your collection container every few days into the compostables cart or worm bin. Compostable bags also help cut down on odors but they can only be put in your compostables cart, not in the worm bin.

For more information, visit www.recyclefood.com, visit Waste Management’s website or call 253-931-3038, Option #2 or visit Republic Services’ website or call 206-682-9735.