Every Other Week Garbage Collection

Parked garbage truck with the Seattle skyline in the background

Results when accounting for service equity

EJSE supports SPU teams to better understand and work on service equity. We can help staff use equity planning tools to help make informed decisions.

SPU considered collecting garbage every other week instead of the current weekly schedule. This change in service would reduce labor and operating costs. Savings would show up as a small reduction in a customer’s bill if they did not order a bigger garbage can. Keeping food waste and recycling out of garbage bins would also keep more garbage out of a landfill in central Oregon. There would also be one less garbage truck driving through Seattle neighborhoods every other week.

In 2011 the team used the equity planning tools on a pilot test of every other week garbage collection. The 2012 pilot captured results from four very different neighborhoods.

Outcome

In Spring 2014 Seattle Mayor Ed Murray cancelled plans to begin city-wide implementation citing:

  • The environmental benefits and the 8% reduction in garbage costs for an average Seattle family (about $3.30 a month) did not offset cutting service frequency by half.
  • City-wide surveys showed that 45% of customers opposed the program change. In lower income and more ethnically diverse neighborhoods, opposition was higher.
  • Read the full project report here.