Composting, Recycling & Garbage, Oh My!

‑Multifamily, Mixed-use, and Townhouse Solid Waste Storage and Service

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) review of solid waste storage and service plans is required for all multifamily, mixed-use, and townhouse projects, as well as projects planning the use of compactors and those without on-site parking or a curb cut.

Last fall SPU launched the Checklist for Developers to help designers plan code-complaint storage and access for composting, recycling, and garbage. SPU requires that each project complete a Checklist before review, and an SPU approval letter is required before your Master Use Permit is issued.

Client Assistance Memo 1301 provides important guidelines for developing code-compliant and functional solid waste storage rooms and plans. It is an important source of information that will help you successfully complete the Checklist.

Contact SPU early with your solid waste storage area and collection questions.  Submitting your plans before Early Design Guidance will help ensure functional and code-compliant solid waste storage and access, and reduce costs and frustration associated with changes later in the application process.

Here are some tips to comply with lesser-known code and practical requirements:

  • Location: Site your solid waste room as close as possible to an alley or non-major arterial service location. Truck drivers can only move 2-cubic-yard and smaller containers 50 feet or less; larger containers (3 yard and 4 yard), or those stored more than 50 feet from the collection location will have to be moved by maintenance staff to a staging area located on the property. Alternatively, you must request special permission from SDOT to stage dumpsters in the right-of-way.
  • Slope: Dumpsters cannot be accessed or moved on slopes greater than 6 percent.
  • Shared Service: Townhouse projects with 10 or more units must have an HOA to pay for shared solid waste services (shared carts or dumpsters, typically dumpsters).

Please contact Angela Wallis at with questions.