Seattle to reduce landfilling by producing less trash in the first place

Seattle is pioneering programs to cut landfill costs by stopping trash before it starts, pursuing an ambitious long-term goal of becoming a “zero-waste” city. Seattle Public Utilities is using more electronic documents, radically reducing its use of paper, and instituting a green buying program for non-toxic cleaners, greener electronics, and other eco-friendly products. Manufacturers are being encouraged to institute take-back programs for their products, intercepting them for reuse or proper disposal before they are sent to the dump. Last year, 11 city-sponsored green-building projects salvaged or reused 57,000 tons of materials, and the “Use-It-Again-Seattle” give-and-take-free-stuff program kept 221 tons of materials out of landfills. While recycling means making something new from something used, “waste prevention means not making the waste in the first place,” said Chris Luboff of Seattle Public Utilities. “We’re trying to broaden that concept.”