Trash People Will Search Your Garbage and Turn You In

Seattle has a new law making it illegal to put food in your garbage.


So what would happen if regions of the country simply made laws the people could not keep trash on their own property that smelled up or otherwise reduced the value of the neighboring property, and made no other laws or regulations about trash disposal other than enforcing property rights.

Naturally, people would need a way of getting their trash out of their property and they wouldn’t be permitted to dump it on other people’s property.

So there would be economic demand for the removal of trash. And just like people respond to the economic demand for pizza delivery by starting businesses that make and deliver pizzas, so businesses would start that picked up garbage and took it away.

[See also, “Climate Change March Trashes New York City? What Can We Learn?]

This process would mean that certain property that had a marginal advantage to be used as waste storage would tend to be used that way. Competing trash disposal businesses would tend to lower prices, but if the available land began to become harder to acquire, then prices would tend to rise. When trash pick-up services became more expensive, then consumers would begin to demand that all possible ways of cutting down the expense be utilized. The trash pick-up businesses themselves might reduce expenses by recycling and composting—offering customers a discount to help them by separating their trash. Or the consumers themselves might separate their trash to reduce the cost of the landfill service and get a little money back selling their recyclables.

In this way resources would be matched with needs.

But, naturally, city governments cannot restrain themselves to merely protecting property rights. They have to make it all a matter of collective goals.

So the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports:

Starting Jan. 1, it will be illegal to throw food and food waste in the trash in Seattle, when a new ban takes effect to increase recycling and composting in the city.

Currently, Seattle residents are allowed to throw food and food waste – pizza boxes, dirty napkins, soiled paper towels – in the garbage. Residents are required to have a food and yard waste collection service, but they don’t have to use it for food. (Backyard composters are exempt from that requirement.)

Similarly, multi-family building owners are required to provide a compost collection service for residents, but residents don’t have to use it.

But on Jan. 1, Seattle will ban food and food waste in trash. 

Enforcement won’t start until July 1. At that time, any single-family trash container with more than 10 percent recyclables or food waste by volume will face a $1 fine on the next garbage bill.

Multi-family property owners with too much food waste in trash will get up to two warning notices, and then a $50 fine.

That system of warnings and $50 fines will also apply to businesses. Currently only businesses that serve food are required to sort food scraps and waste for composting. The new law will require all types of businesses to do that.

Of course, the only way the government can know that you have “more than 10 percent recyclables or food waste by volume” in your trash is by the trash collectors searching it.

The reasons given for these regulations include the expense. That makes sense but it begs the question why the city has socialized what should be a service provided by private businesses. The other reason is “greenhouse gases.” So the government is ordering people around in the name of a non-problem. And even if it were true, composting also releases so-called “greenhouse gases.”