Seattle Public Utilities Mami Hara, General Manager/CEO

Ordinances Prohibiting Recyclables and Compostables in Garbage

Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) sections 21.36.082 and 21.36.083 require that residents and businesses do not put food scraps, compostable paper, yard waste, and recyclables in their garbage.

SMC 21.36.082 and 21.36.083 expand the list of materials that must be recycled by residents and businesses. The new items include glass bottles and jars, plastic cups, bottles and jars, and aluminum and tin cans for recycling, as well as food scraps and compostable paper for composting.

Business owners and property managers must provide convenient food and yard waste service and recycling service at their property. Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) gives warning notices for garbage containers that contain recyclables or compostables. For each warning, the property will receive a tag on the container and a notice will be mailed to the account. After 2 warnings, properties may receive a $50 fee on their waste bill for recyclables in the garbage.

Self-haul businesses and customers are also prohibited from disposing recyclables, yard waste, food scraps, and compostable paper as garbage at city transfer stations.

Exceptions:

  • Commercial or multi-family customers without adequate space for collection containers as determined by SPU inspection.
  • Garbage containers that receive waste from the public.

What doesn't go in the garbage?

What resources are available?

  • Apartments are eligible for free recycling service within Seattle.
  • Seattle transfer stations accept recyclables for free, and yard debris for a fee that is less than garbage.
  • The Green Business Program provides free assistance to help Seattle-area businesses lower utility costs, obtain rebates, comply with regulations, and receive public recognition – all while protecting the environment.