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Mayor Greg Nickels left office on January 1, 2010.
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A recycling milestone

0907010019I was pleased to join the Rivers family in Greenwood to announce that Seattle has set a new city record for recycling. For the first time, 50 percent of the city’s residential, commercial and self-haul waste in 2008 was recycled instead of going to the landfill. That’s up 1.8 percentage points from 2007 and marks the fifth straight year of increased recycling for the city.

Back in 2003, the recycling rate dipped to 38 percent. As a new mayor at the time, I was concerned about that. So I asked Seattle Public Utilities to come up with a plan for how we would get to 60% recycling by 2012.

We have turned that trend in the right direction and have hit the 50 percent mark. And that doesn’t include all the changes we made in April 2009, when we started picking up yard waste weekly, allowing people to compost food waste. Also, we made things a bit simpler–you can now put glass in with the rest of your recycling, and we’ve expanded the kinds of things that can be recycled. We’re going to make that 60 percent by 2012, and we’re going to get everything out of the landfill stream that we possibly can.

It’s a little hard to compare recycling rates city-to-city because each city calculates its diversion rates differently, but the national average is about 32 percent. I think people in Seattle are much more aware of the impact we have on the planet. Thanks to composting and recycling, Leah and Yarek Rivers now have the smallest “mini” can for garbage. Our residents are very well motivated and now, we’re giving them the tools to be able to recycle effectively and conveniently. The credit for this milestone really belongs to everyone in Seattle for taking small, simple steps every day and making a big difference.

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Visit Seattle Public Utilities for more on recycling