CBS Hosts Cheer Seattle Fining People For Not Composting: ‘Go Seattle!’

Following a Wednesday morning report in which the hosts of CBS This Morning celebrated California’s ban on plastic bags, on Thursday morning the hosts promoted a Seattle law that fines citizens for failing to compost properly.

While co-host Norah O’Donnell skeptically argued that “garbage trucks may start to feel more like police cars” reporter Ben Tracy began his report by suggesting the fine for not composting didn’t go far enough and wondered “if you're really trying to incentivize people to do this, why is the fine only a buck?”  

The CBS reporter began by playing up how “these days almost nothing is garbage in Seattle. There's recycling and yard waste and food scraps. The garbage can is the smallest one on the street. Seattle will now start fining people who throw food in the trash rather than the compost bin.”

Tracy then spoke to Hans Van Dusen, the head of Seattle’s garbage collection service to lament that the fines for failing to compost might not go far enough:

Hans Van Dusen oversees garbage collection here. Seattle recycles 55% of its garbage but wants to hit 60%. So as of next summer businesses throwing food in the trash can be fined up to $50 and single family homes, $1 per violation. If you're really trying to incentivize people to do this, why is the fine only a buck?

As the segment progressed, the CBS reporter did question whether or not the program turns “trash collectors into cops” but made sure to hype how trash contributes to global warming:

Food scraps that end up in the trash end up in landfills. They rot and create methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. About 35 million tons of food waste is generated in the U.S. each year but only 5% is composted and turned into fertilizer. The problem is Seattle’s plan will turn trash collectors into trash cops.

While the CBS reporter did speak to a conservative Seattle resident who complained that the cost of educating individuals about the program exceeded the environmental benefits, Tracy concluded the segment by promoting how “city officials say Seattle is an environmental leader. The emerald city that can never be too green.”

After Tracy’s report concluded, CBS’s Gayle King and Charlie Rose heaped praise on the Seattle law with Rose proclaiming “if people apply a bit of creativity they can make the situation a lot better.” King ended the segment by cheering how "their commitment to making it better. Go, Seattle!”

See relevant transcript below.

CBS This Morning

October 2, 2014

NORAH O’DONNELL: Composting is now on the menu in Seattle. The mayor just signed a controversial new law. It fines people for throwing away their food scraps. Ben Tracy shows us why garbage trucks may start to feel more like police cars. 

BEN TRACY: Ted Vrell is a machine. He's been a sanitation worker for more than 36 years and collects up to 1,000 garbage cans every day. Back in 1978 when you started doing this, were things a little different? 

TED VRELL: We didn't have recycling, everything was garbage in the old days. 

TRACY: These days almost nothing is garbage in Seattle. There's recycling and yard waste and food scraps. The garbage can is the smallest one on the street. Seattle will now start fining people who throw food in the trash rather than the compost bin.  

HANS VAN DUSEN: All food waste goes in there now. All meats, dairies, the works goes in there.

TRACY: Hans Van Dusen oversees garbage collection here. Seattle recycles 55% of its garbage but wants to hit 60%. So as of next summer businesses throwing food in the trash can be fined up to $50 and single family homes, $1 per violation. If you're really trying to incentivize people to do this, why is the fine only a buck?

HANS VAN DUSEN: We’re not looking to make a lot of money or any revenue off it. It’s just to make the rules clear so everybody can help us save resources. 

TRACY: Food scraps that end up in the trash end up in landfills. They rot and create methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. About 35 million tons of food waste is generated in the U.S. each year but only 5% is composted and turned into fertilizer. The problem is Seattle’s plan will turn trash collectors into trash cops. Do you have anybody calling you and saying this is a dumb idea or are people on board? 

HANS VAN DUSEN: People really want this. That’s not to say everybody’s on board. Certainly some people think maybe it's a step too far. 

TRACY: People like Todd Meyers who heads a conservative think tank in Seattle. 

TODD MEYERS: This is just sort of the next step in what Seattle does.  

TRACY: Meyers says the city is wasting $400,000 on educating residents about the new trash law.  

MEYERS: The cost far outweighs the environmental benefits. When you have to enforce more and more and more, it shows that people don't want to do it and it's not the best solution. 

TRACY: But city officials say Seattle is an environmental leader. The emerald city that can never be too green. For CBS This Morning, Ben Tracy, Seattle. 

O’DONNELL: I think that's a great story because it says a lot about how to deal with our trash. And I think composting is a good idea but how do you do it in a city. 

CHARLIE ROSE: You know what it says to me? If people apply a bit of creativity they can make the situation a lot better.

GAYLE KING:  And their commitment to making it better. Go, Seattle!

Economy Environment Global Warming Pollution CBS CBS This Morning Gayle King Ben Tracy Norah O'Donnell Charlie Rose

Sponsored Links