Seattle Public Utilities Mami Hara, General Manager/CEO

Ordinances Prohibiting Recyclables in Garbage

Seattle Municipal Code 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.

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 food waste. 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 debris, food scraps, and compostable paper as garbage at city transfer stations.


  • Commercial or multi-family customers without adequate space for collection containers as determined by SPU inspection.
  • Garbage dumpsters 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.