2022 Solid Waste Plan Update: Moving Upstream to Zero Waste

An international leader in solid waste management for decades, Seattle has advanced a zero-waste vision thanks to public support for environmentally progressive programs and thoughtful planning. To move upstream toward zero waste, SPU is looking at the whole life cycle of materials to eliminate waste and toxins, prevent pollution, reduce carbon emissions, and conserve natural resources as early as possible. We get closer to zero waste by producing and using less. That is why Seattle’s 2022 Solid Waste Plan Update: Moving Upstream to Zero Waste (2022 Plan Update) prioritizes waste prevention in solid waste system planning. As part of our emphasis on waste prevention, Seattle will work to address the root causes of waste to reduce impacts on health and the environment.

 Infographic showing key steps in the lifecycle of consumed materials and pointing out where greenhouse gas emissions are produced
View a larger version of this graphic.

 

Thank you for your comments on the 2022 Plan Update!

Thank you to the individuals, community groups, organizations, non-profits, and businesses who submitted comments. The comment period has now closed. We will be reviewing comments for incorporation into the plan and a summary will be provided in the Appendices when the plan is published.

These materials where provided for the public comment period:

Under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), SPU has conducted an environmental review of the Solid Waste Plan Update and issued a SEPA Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) on April 11, 2022. The DNS and the associated SEPA Environmental Checklist can be found on the Construction Impacts page. Comments on the DNS are now closed.

 

Public Comment Materials

  • Take a look at our One-Pager. It has all the information about the draft 2022 Plan Update public comment period on one page!
  • Download our Partner Toolkit and view our templates and sample ads for social media and websites!

 

Draft 2022 Plan Update Documents

How do I get in touch if I have additional questions?

You can get in touch with us about our planning process or any other questions related to the draft 2022 Solid Waste Plan Update at spu_solidwasteplan@seattle.gov.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the draft 2022 Solid Waste Plan Update?

Required by state law, the draft 2022 Solid Waste Plan Update guides how Seattle will manage and finance its solid waste services and facilities over the next 6 years, and projects system management needs over 20 years. The draft 2022 Plan Update:

  • Highlights historic solid waste trends, including progress toward goals, and details solid waste system projections.
    Describes how Seattle advances waste prevention and diversion from landfill through policy, customer outreach and education, investments in the circular economy, and enforcement of solid waste rules, regulations, and contracts.
  • Describes the solid waste system and how Seattle provides essential waste collection, recycling, composting, and disposal services to 1.4 million people in the city.
  • Recommends 39 actions for Seattle to continue innovating in solid waste management.
  • Suggests creating new goals consistent with Seattle’s growing emphasis on reducing waste at the source.

What are the draft 2022 Plan Update highlights?

  • Emphasizes centering racial equity and building resiliency in our approach to solid waste management.
  • Aligns with key zero waste policy in SPU’s Strategic Business Plan (2021-2026), Seattle’s Climate Action Plan (2013), and Washington State’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Plan - “Moving Washington Beyond Waste and Toxics” (2021).
  • Explains SPU’s lifecycle view of solid waste management that focuses “upstream” on minimizing waste at the source to reduce harmful impacts.
  • Discusses limitations of the recycling rate to measure waste prevention and offers alternatives.
  • Calls for development of metrics and targets to measure climate, programmatic, and policy impacts.s

What does the draft 2022 Plan Update do?

  • Communicates SPU’s current approach of taking a lifecycle perspective of materials in solid waste planning to eliminate waste as far upstream in the lifecycle as possible.
  • Aims to protect public health and the environment by identifying how to Seattle will manage and finance its solid waste services and facilities over the next 6 years, and projects system management needs over 20 years.
  • Addresses how Seattle plans to provide solid waste services to a growing and diversifying population, while reaffirming Seattle’s commitment to Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) priorities of racial equity and inclusion.
  • Proposes actions to prevent waste upstream and reduce it downstream, and to hold manufacturers and distributers accountable for system costs and environmental impacts they help generate.
  • Reflects community input and results of an updated economic and environmental analyses of existing and future waste management programs using the Recycling Potential Assessment (RPA) Model and Measuring the Environmental Benefits Calculator (MEBCalc™), respectively.
  • Identifies areas of anticipated future risk and guide the Solid Waste Line of Business in developing strategies to reduce those risks.

How do I provide comment on the draft 2022 Plan Update?

Your feedback is important to shaping the future of solid waste services, programs, and policies in Seattle. The public comment period is a way for SPU customers, community members, and organizations to provide their feedback on the 2022 Solid Waste Plan Update and the recommendations the Plan proposes. Recommendations are presented in the Executive Summary as well in the Chapter Summaries available on the website. We suggest reviewing one or both of these documents prior to providing comment. You can also read the full draft plan that includes explanations for each of the recommendations.

We are accepting comments online from April 11 through May 6 on the website. After the public comment period closes, comments will be reviewed for final updates to the plan. A summary of public comments will be available on our website when the plan is published.

Why is SPU focused on waste prevention?

Waste prevention addresses the root causes of waste to reduce their impacts and works by directly targeting consumption and consumer behavior to reduce the amount of items going to the landfill. SPU aims to lead waste prevention planning and programs that leverage partnerships, respond to changing recycling markets, and reduce the volume of single-use plastics.

Examples of waste prevention actions residents and businesses can take include:

  • buying and using less;
  • designing products to last longer;
  • reducing packaging; buying used; and
  • repairing, reusing, sharing, donating, or re-selling items so others can use them.

What does zero waste mean to SPU?

Zero waste is a cornerstone of SPU’s Strategic Business Plan (SBP 2021-2026), where we aim to foster healthy people, environment, and economy by partnering with our community to equitably manage water and waste resources for today and future generations. Zero waste protects health and the environment through the conservation of resources from production through consumption without burning or pollution to land, water, or air.

Seattle’s vision of zero waste strives for a waste-free society by creating new practices and policies to reduce or reuse waste and build an economy where the continual use of resources is supported. We must look at the whole life cycle of materials so we can eliminate waste, prevent pollution, encourage product durability and reusability, conserve natural resources, and ultimately build a circular and inclusive economy.