Public Litter & Recycling Cans

Photo of litter cans on a sidewalk
The majority of SPU public garbage and recycling cans are made of metal slates with a rounded top.

Seattle has a goal to recycle 70% of our solid waste by 2022. To support this effort and help keep our city clean, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) places litter and recycling cans (pdf) along streets in mixed-use business areas with high pedestrian traffic. To date, we have placed over 1000 cans across the city.

Neighborhood Services

Depending on the neighborhood, garbage and recycling cans are serviced 3 to 14 times per week. To find out when cans in your area are serviced, view the neighborhood pickup schedule (pdf).

To report maintenance needs, or other problems with cans in your area, call (206) 684-7387 or email spu_publiclittercans@seattle.gov.

To report illegal dumping or overflow issues, you can submit the online illegal dumping report form or use the Find It, Fix It mobile app.

If you believe your neighborhood would benefit from a garbage or recycling can, you can determine the eligibility of your location by reviewing our placement criteria for new cans (pdf). Requests can be made by calling (206) 482-3147.

Photo of fluted style litter cans on a sidewalk
This illustrates fluted style cans.

Proper Use of Cans

Public litter & recycling cans are meant to reduce the instances of small, street-side litter by providing waste collection services to people actively using the right-of-way as pedestrians (including those using mobility devices), motorists, and cyclists for whom a residential or commercial can is not available. 
 
Public litter & recycling cans are not meant to be the sole collection source for businesses, households, and multi-family residences, which should have their own residential and commercial solid waste accounts already. Items consistently left next to the cans by businesses and households is an example of illegal dumping defined in Seattle Municipal Code 21.36.420 and may result in an audit and eventual removal of the can from the street. Large items can be scheduled for pick up or taken to Seattle transfer stations
 
The proper use of the recycling can is to collect mostly clean, dry, and empty recyclables such as paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum. All non-recyclable items such as food-soiled material and cellophane packaging should be put in the litter can. Please refer to the Where Does It Go? Tool if you aren’t sure!

Photo of secured style litter cans on a sidewalk
This illustrates secured style cans.

Related Links

  • Event recycling: information on portable recycling bins at events throughout the city.
  • Report illegal dumping: information on the illegal disposal of junk, garbage, and debris on public property.
  • Find It, Fix It App: a mobile tool to report illegal dumping, abandoned vehicles, graffiti, parking enforcement, and road maintenance concerns in Seattle.
  • Where Does It Go? Tool: Use this tool to find out how to dispose of something.