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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: Murray nixes every-other-week garbage collection

2/21/2014  11:00:00 AM
Jason Kelly  (206) 615-0494
William Lemke  (206) 684-7991

Murray nixes every-other-week garbage collection
Reductions in service not justified, recycling goals can still be met, Mayor says

Mayor Ed Murray today said he is asking Seattle City Council and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) to shelve plans for reducing garbage collections to every other week.

In a letter to Sally Bagshaw, chair of the Council’s Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee, Murray said his decision was based on an evaluation of the city’s recent pilot program that tested every-other-week garbage collection in four neighborhoods, and on the recommendation of a special customer review panel.

Bagshaw said today she supports the mayor’s decision.

Murray said his decision was motivated primarily out of concerns that the proposed program could work hardship on some Seattle residents, and that he remains strongly committed to the city’s recycling ethic and goals.

“Based on projections in the City’s recently-adopted Solid Waste Management Plan, we should be able to stay on track with our recycling goals without resorting to every-other-week garbage collections,” Murray said. “If that turns out not to be the case, we can always reassess.”

Murray said he has directed SPU to review and recommend the means to achieve the city’s 60 percent recycling goal through other recycling programs. That recommendation will be presented to the mayor and the City Council by the end of June.

“I agree with Mayor Murray that every-other-week garbage collection does not give Seattleites sufficient value to offset the personal costs involved,” said Bagshaw. “While every-other-week service would reduce garbage service by half it would not reduce residential bills by half.  We must look to other programs to increase our city’s recycling and composting opportunities, and I will work with the Mayor and Seattle Public Utilities to achieve the city’s goals.”

In his letter to Bagshaw, Murray listed his reasons for shelving the every-other-week garbage program:

  • SPU’s Customer Review Panel recently recommended against pursuing every-other-week garbage.
  • The environmental benefits and the 8 percent reduction in garbage costs for an average Seattle family (about $3.30 a month) do not outweigh a 50 percent reduction in service frequency.
  • Forty-five percent of customers in citywide surveys oppose the program; and in lower income and more ethnically diverse neighborhoods, the rate of opposition is higher.
  • The City has other immediate opportunities to boost its recycling numbers.

The report on SPU’s pilot program can be found here.


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