For Managers and Owners

Chester Morse Lake

Seattle regulations for multi-family housing:

  • Food waste, yard waste, and recyclables are not allowed in the garbage. (SMC 21.36.082-083)
  • Residents must have access to recycle and compost collection services. (SMC 21.40)

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) provides solid waste collection services to multi-family housing, including apartment buildings, condominiums, and homeowner associations. Below you will find common solid waste requests such as reporting missed collections, changing your container size, and and requesting signage. If you are a commercial customer, view information for your business.

 

Most Common Requests:

 

Signage, Flyers, & Sorting Help for Tenants

 

Reduce the Waste Costs of your Building

The cost that SPU charges for collecting waste are set up to encourage recycling & composting:

  • Garbage collection is expensive.
  • Compost collection is affordable.
  • Recycle collection is provided for free.

This means that you may be able to reduce the solid waste bill of your building if the tenants are trained and have the information and the tools needed to keep recyclables and food waste out of the garbage. Follow our tips on how to help residents recycle and compost.

 

Basics for Property Managers and Maintenance Staff

Service is contracted for a minimum of six months, with various sizes and frequencies of collection available. To request solid waste service set up, call Seattle Public Utilities Customer Service at (206) 684-7665 at least 4 weeks prior to occupancy. A solid waste inspector will contact you to set up an on-site meeting.

As part of starting service, a Seattle Public Utilities inspector will meet with the building manager or owner to determine container size, location, and collection frequency. If you need to arrange garbage service for retail or other businesses (not apartment or condo buildings), deal directly with the commercial garbage provider for your area.

Architects seeking design guidance for solid waste storage rooms in new building projects can contact SPU Development Review staff at SPU_SolidWastePlanReview@seattle.gov or (206) 684-4166.

How often are containers collected?

  • Garbage containers are normally collected once a week, however you can request more frequent collection. Keep in mind that as you increase collection frequency, the costs will increase. It is more efficient to add more containers instead of adding collections.
  • Recycle containers are collected once a week or every other week. Because recycle collection is provided for free, if you would like more frequent collection, an inspector will need to evaluate your request. It is preferred to add more containers instead of adding collections.
  • Compost containers are normally collected once a week.

How many containers do I need?

The larger a building, the more containers that you would need. Below are the recommendations of how much total volume a building you should have, according to its size.

Service Recommended Total Volume Examples
Compost 2 gallons per week per dwelling unit A 100-unit property should have close to 200 gallons/week. You could have two 96-gallon containers picked up every week.
Garbage (without compaction) 0.15 cubic yards per week per dwelling unit A 60-unit property should have close to 9 cubic yards/week. You could have three 3-cubic yard dumpsters picked up once a week. If the property is already constructed and there is no space for that, you could have one 3-cubic yard dumpster picked up three times a week (with inspector approval).
Recycle (without compaction) 0.15 cubic yards per week per dwelling unit An 80-unit property should have close to 12 cubic yards/week. You could have six 4-cubic yard dumpsters picked up every other week. If the property is already constructed and there is no space for that, you could have three 4-cubic yard dumpsters picked up once a week (with inspector approval).
Garbage (with compaction) 0.05 cubic yards per week per dwelling unit A 60-unit property should have close to 3 compacted cubic yards/week. You could have one 3-cubic yard dumpsters picked up once a week.
Recycle (with compaction) 0.05 cubic yards per week per dwelling unit An 80-unit property should have close to 4 compacted cubic yards/week. You could have one 4-cubic yard dumpster picked up once a week.

Type of containers available

Type of container Dumpster compactors
Photo of a dumpster compactor
Dumpsters
Photo of SPU dumpsters
Carts
Photo of SPU carts
Materials collected Garbage and Recycling Garbage and Recycling* Garbage and Recycling Compost
Normally recommended for New or renovated buildings Existing buildings with more than 7-10 dwelling units Existing buildings with less than 7-10 dwelling units Most residential buildings*
Who provides the containers? A compaction system vendor. To find out more, search online using the keywords "garbage compactors". Containers used in residential apartments and condos are provided and maintained by SPU. Call (206) 684-3000. Containers used in residential apartments and condos are provided and maintained by SPU. Call (206) 684-3000. Containers used in residential apartments and condos are provided and maintained by SPU. Call (206) 684-3000.
Relevant considerations Dumpster compactors can save you money in the long term. However, they must be bought and maintained by the building. Make sure to review and understand this information. There needs to be a hard, flat, and level area with enough space for them. Dumpsters used in residential apartments and condos are provided and maintained by the SPU. Garbage backyard collection available for a fee. Recycling backyard collection available for eligible customers. There are two compost services options available.
Sizes available Contact a garbage compactor vendor 1-cubic yard
1.5-cubic yards
2-cubic yards
3-cubic yards
4-cubic yards
6-cubic yards
8-cubic yards

View pictures of container options.

96-gallon (equals 0.5 cubic yards) 32-gallon
64-gallon
96-gallon
Regular collection costs** View garbage rates for compacted garbage. Recycling is provided for free. View garbage rates for dumpsters. Recycling is provided for free. View garbage rates for carts. Recycling is provided for free. View food & yard (compost) rates.

* Dumpsters can be used to collect compost, and this is recommended for properties that have a commercial kitchen or for buildings that have an unusually large amount of food waste. However, this service is not provided by SPU. View information about companies that provide this service.

** There are additional costs for accessing a secure area, for locks, and for other services.

 

New Building Projects

A Seattle Public Utilities Solid Waste review is required for proposed multi-family or mixed-used buildings with 5+ units of housing, and commercial and industrial projects. Submit the relevant application materials to SPU_SolidWastePlanReview@seattle.gov or call (206) 684-4166 for more information.