The city of Seattle wants its citizens to think twice about tossing those week-old pizza leftovers in the trash. So much so that officials are going to start imposing fines on those who do.

To inch closer to the goal of raising recycling and composting rates from 56 to 60 percent, a new law went into effect earlier this month that makes it illegal to have more than 10 percent of one’s trash bin composed of food waste. The law is currently in a trial period, with trash cans being shamed tagged with red flags when found in violation. Starting in July, those flags turn into requests for dollar bills, $1 bills to be exact. Each single-family household will be fined $1 per infraction, while apartment buildings and businesses could be hit with $50.  

So really, the city of Seattle wants its citizens to reduce their food waste, but not quite enough to make the repercussions serious? How much of an impact will this actually make when the consequences are relatively mild?

There’s no doubt that every little bit helps when it comes to keeping trash out of our landfills, especially considering the Natural Resources Defense Council says as much as 40 percent of America’s food supply ends up in the trash (nearly half of which comes from consumers, according to the EPA). But as a country, we’re still woefully behind the picture-perfect ideal of keeping our landfills trim. Look at Sweden, for example, where less than 1 percent of the country’s trash ends up in landfills thanks to progressive waste-to-energy conversion plants. That's rad. Seattle, on the other hand: maybe a B+ for effort? 

Whether these new rules will spark sweeping change or simply provide an extra source of pocket change for the city, one thing’s for sure: I’d hate to be the trash collector responsible for inspecting all of those cans. 

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