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TACOMA: Recycling food scraps goes too far

Letter by Russ W. Cornwell, Tacoma on April 16, 2012 at 11:26 am with 9 Comments »
April 16, 2012 2:00 pm

I was the recipient of one of the new food scrap recycle boxes this week. I am to put food scraps, including meat and veggies, in this thing. I am supposed to dump it in the yard recycle bin which is picked up and emptied every other week.

Besides the obvious foul odors that will be coming out of the bin, is this not a health issue? I would think that 2-week-old meat, covered with blue fuzz and starting to liquefy, is dangerous. Talk about a toxic brew.

The garbage pickup guys usually do a good job, but frequently a little trash is spilled on the curb or in the gutter. I am all for recycling, but this is a little over the top. I can’t wait to see how this plays out.

Leave a comment Comments → 9
  1. Little surprised that they want animal byproducts. I only compost fruit & vegetable waste.

    When I had my live/work space we used worm bins – worked great with no smell.

  2. Vox_clamantis_in_deserto says:

    LOL, you think every two weeks is bad, wait ’till you miss a pick-up day… in the summer… during a heat wave when the temps average mid to upper eighties… with a fish carcass in the can.

    Thankfully, this is voluntary… for now.

  3. tree_guy says:

    What difference does it make if you put the scraps in the little brown container then dump it in the yard waste container or if you just put the scraps in the yard waste container directly?

  4. alindasue says:


    Most home compost piles don’t get hot enough to properly compost the meat products – but in nature, what is not eaten does compost and become part of the soil.

    Mr. Cornwall,

    It is recommended in the literature that you line your compost bin with newspaper or paper bag, both of which will easily compost with the food and will act to contain the mess. Also, mixing the food compost with your yard waste will naturally minimize the smell as well.


    If you miss a pick-up date, the fish won’t smell any worse in your yard waste bin than it will in your garbage. If you don’t want the smell of fish carcass on a hot day in your yard, don’t eat fish… or freeze the potentially “stinky” foods until the day of pick-up and don’t forget to put your can out on pick-up day.

  5. alindasue says:

    tree_guy said, “What difference does it make if you put the scraps in the little brown container then dump it in the yard waste container or if you just put the scraps in the yard waste container directly?”

    Nothing. Convenience mostly. If you want to take every plate out directly to scrape into the yard waste bin directly, I suppose you are welcome to do so.

  6. itwasntmethistime says:

    tree_guy — I’ll take that one further. What difference does it make if you put the food waste into the little bin for two weeks or directly into the yard waste bin for two weeks OR in your regular garbage for two weeks? Why do you think it will smell any worse in one container over the other?

    We have our garbage taken just once a month and it’s really not that bad. Just keep the lid shut.

  7. Flanagan says:

    The crows do a great job of cleaning up leftover food :o)

  8. Hey Russ, GROSS! Don’t forget the dogs, cats, rats, ants, roaches, and raccoons that can be generated by your yard waste bin after you put food in it. They create their own nasty health issues, and can cost a substantial amount to get rid of.

  9. alindasue says:


    Placing food in the yard waste bin no more attracts critters than placing food in your garbage does. The key is to make sure your lid is closed and secure.

    You could also achieve the same goal by not generating any food waste, but that would require a good deal more effort on your part.

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