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Solid Waste Rates Frequently Asked Questions

What can residents do to manage their solid waste bills?

Seattle offers several garbage container sizes. By downsizing to a smaller container, you can save money and reduce waste going to the landfill.

Food waste makes up more than 30 percent of Seattle’s garbage. Paper makes up nearly 20 percent. Recycling, composting at home, or using the food and yard waste container are good ways to reduce your garbage enough to use a smaller can size. Preventing waste by buying durable products with less packaging also helps.

You can also save money by subscribing to a smaller food/yard waste cart.

What happens to my recyclables? How does recycling benefit me?

Seattle’s recyclables are collected and delivered to the Republic Services Recycling Center in the SODO District, where the materials are sorted and baled for marketing. Republic Services then sells the materials and ships them to recycling markets around the Northwest, the U.S. and the Pacific Rim to be used in making new products.

Although market values of the recycled commodities vary with economic conditions, the cost of collecting, processing and transporting recyclables is approximately 50 percent less per ton than the cost of shipping the material to the landfill in Arlington, Oregon where Seattle’s garbage is disposed of.

Recycling and composting divert materials that would otherwise be landfilled to beneficial uses. Recycling and composting also have less environmental impact than disposal, because they help reduce energy use and global warming gas generation.

What do my solid waste rates pay for?

The City’s solid waste costs are about $175 million annually. Collection and disposal contract costs make up the majority of solid waste expenses. The remainder pays for modernizing the City’s two transfer stations and funding operations, environmental activities, customer service, and other general costs that include solid waste planning and recycling program development.

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The City of Seattle contracts to have Seattle’s garbage picked up from approximately 150,000 households, 6,000 apartments, and 8,000 businesses every week. In addition, the City owns and operates two recycling and disposal transfer stations that run six days a week. Seattle also has several recycling, composting, litter and toxics reduction programs that help keep Seattle clean and green.