D.C. residents will be required to compost

Posted at 6:16 PM, Jul 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-16 18:16:50-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. --  San Francisco became the first big city in the U.S. to require all residents to compost, five years ago.  Since then, several other cities on the West Coast have followed suit, and now D.C. is pushing the concept.

On Monday, CBS affiliate WUSA 9 reported that city council approved a bill requiring all residents to separate their waste into three categories: trash, recycling, and compost. D.C. residents are already required to recycle, but now residents will be given a third bin for compost.

Some residents are worried it will simply be too much work.

"I live on the third floor. How do you haul that down three flights of stairs and separate that out? It's going to be a bit difficult," said Jessica Melton, a D.C. resident told WUSA 9.

Other residents say they like the idea of composting, but have no understanding of it.

Councilwoman Mary Cheh, the bill's co-sponsor, believes it will likely be 2017 before the city's compost program is operational, allowing ample time for outreach and education.

"What we will do is move forward vigorously to educate people about what it means to compost and how they can comply," said Councilwoman Cheh.

"I already compost, so I think it's a great idea," said Rick Silber, a D.C. resident. "It's pretty simple. It's really not a big intellectual step up. I think most people can handle it."

But not everyone shares Silber's enthusiasm, especially when they learn they could be fined for failing to separate their compost from the rest of their trash.

"I'm not excited about any more fines. It's bad enough with speed cameras, so I don't need a composting fine," said Evans.

"If we ever got into an enforcement regime, I would insist that we start with warnings," countered Cheh. "We're all on spaceship earth and we have to conserve what we have and keep clean what we have."