Judge rules Seattle 'trash-snooping' ordinance as unconstitutional
- King County Superior Court Judge Beth M. Andrus has ruled that Seattle's residential garbage inspections to check for compostable waste are unconstitutional, rendering that portion of the ordinance as invalid. The actual ban that prohibits Seattle residents from tossing compostable waste in the garbage is still valid.
- The original ordinance encouraged garbage collectors to give out citations if the see such waste in a resident's garbage bag.
- The ruling is considered a "victory for common sense and constitutional rights" by Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Ethan Blevins, who filed the lawsuit in 2015 on behalf of eight Seattle residents.
Seattle's composting ordinance has been debated for almost a year, despite the law being put into place with good intentions of diverting food waste from the landfill.
"Before the ordinance, Seattle sent approximately 100,000 tons of food waste 300 miles to a landfill in eastern Oregon each year. This resulted in higher costs and greenhouse gas emissions," said Seattle Public Utilities on its website, as reported by The Washington Times.
However, allowing trash collectors to get a closer look at residents' garbage bags sparked questions of legality and freedom of disposal—and the judge agreed that Seattle took "trash-snooping" a bit too far.
In the wake of this ruling, it will be interesting to see how other cities such as Vancouver, San Francisco, and Portland will be affected when operating similar food waste bans.
Waste Dive will continue to update this story as it develops.
- The Washington Times Judge tosses Seattle ordinance requiring garbage-can searches for food waste
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