Thursday, July 14

Safeco Field getting greener as more garbage composted

Mariners are ahead of the game on meeting Seattle's new recycling/composting law. 

In the first three ballgames at Safeco Field this year, 70 percent of the service ware — cups, plates, even eating utensils — used by Mariners fans and employees was recycled or composted.
That’s a huge increase from last year, when 38 percent didn’t go to a landfill.

Seattle Mariners spokeswoman Rebecca Hale said the emphasis on keeping food-serving-and-eating items out of the trash will save the team about $100,000 a year in landfill fees; last year, the team saved $60,000.

Beginning July 1, Seattle will become the first city in the nation where all single-use service ware must be either compostable or recyclable. That means Seattle will stop sending 6,000 tons of plastic and plastic-coated paper products to a landfill, or 225 shipping containers of waste.
While the law doesn’t go into effect until July 1, the Mariners decided to start now with the beginning of its season.

There are just 17 garbage cans at Safeco Field, said Scott Jenkins, vice president of ballpark operations. All the others have been replaced with 300 compost containers and 200 recycling bins.
The Mariners have contracted with Cedar Grove Composting to handle the waste. Plastic bottles make up the largest single number of recyclable items at Safeco, Hale said. Beer “glasses” and the cardboard packaging for bobbleheads are plentiful, too.

At Safeco, crews sift through the garbage to pull out plastic bottles. Almost everything else is compostable. Even the plastic beer glasses and eating utensils can be composted. Jenkins said virtually all that’s left as garbage are potato-chip bags, wrappers for licorice ropes and tiny condiment containers.

The key to success, said Jenkins, is educating the fans, who want to throw away their beer glasses and plates. “We’re early in the learning curve, but are doing really well,” he said.
He envisions a 70 percent compost and recycling rate this year, and it could even get as high as 85 percent.

Dick Lilly, with Seattle Public Utilities, said the July 1 change is part of a package of laws passed by the Seattle City Council, that included a ban on Styrofoam packaging and the failed effort to put a fee on plastic and paper bags.

By Susan Gilmore

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