Waste Reduction Contest in Seattle Comes with $50,000

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Chart: CleanScapes

Seattle residents are in the thick of duking it out to see who will take home this year’s $50,000 prize from CleanScapes.

CleanScapes devised a waste-reduction contest among neighborhoods in the Seattle area last year to help boost recycling rates and keep waste from landfills. The winning neighborhoods receive $50,000, and they decide how to spend the cash on community projects. Last year’s winners settled on a playground in Washington Park and a series of benches in Shoreline, both of which will be dedicated to waste reduction and built by volunteers.

“We thought really hard about some of the ways that we could motivate a lot of people,” says John Taylor, Government Affairs Manager. “We thought it would be meaningful to build a capital project.”

The 2010-2011 contest, which runs from September 2010 to September 2011, was expanded from half of CleanScape’s collection area to the whole region, totaling an additional 30,000 residential customers.

Despite seeing a reduction is overall waste last year, Taylor says it’s too early to know if the contest is actually changing people’s behaviors or if the reduction was due to the economy or other factors. “We are monitoring everything, though,” he says. “We’re in it for the long haul. We will be doing this annually for the foreseeable future.”

Taylor says he hopes that as the contest continues, word will spread and more communities will get involved. “They will want to win.”

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