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.

Northwest Seattle Community Meeting Scheduled in Early Nov. 2017

Northwest Seattle residents, employees and businesses are invited to a community open house and informational meeting for Seattle City Light’s seven properties from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Monday, November 6 at the Ballard First Lutheran Church (2006 NW 65th Street).

From 6:00 – 7:00 p.m., various city departments will share information about their projects and programs that will affect the Northwest Seattle area.

  • Ballard Loo – Following a Ballard community request for a permanent public toilet, the City of Seattle is collaborating with the community on plans for the installation of a Portland Loo.
  • The Ship Canal Water Quality Project will reduce combined sewer overflows with a deep storage tunnel constructed in the Ballard, Fremont and Wallingford neighborhoods.
  • Ballard Design Guidelines – City staff will provide an update on the process to develop new urban design guidelines for the Ballard Urban Village.
  • Recycling and Composting Information – Learn more about solid waste diversion efforts with a “Where Does It Go?” display, free guides and other cool stuff.
  • The Burke Gilman Trail Missing Link Project will connect the two existing portions of Seattle’s popular Burke-Gilman Trail with a 1.4 mile corridor through the Ballard neighborhood, designed to improving safety, predictability and access for all users.

From 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Seattle City Light will also host a community information meeting about the possible sale of the utility’s properties at these locations:

The utility is considering selling or transferring these properties for full market value. There will be representatives from various City departments there to answer questions about the proposal.

For more information on City Light’s properties, please visit

Recycle Your Holidays

Between Thanksgiving  and New Year’s Day, U.S. household waste increases by 25 percent—that’s about 1 million tons per week! Want to do your part to cut down on that extra waste? Check out this list of how-to’s for holiday recycling:


  • Bubble Wrap:
    Reused bubble wrap is great for mailing gifts or storing fragile items. If you can’t reuse it, bubble wrap can go in your home recycling container. Bundle it together in a plastic grocery bag before you toss it in the cart.
  • Christmas Lights:
    Burned-out string lights (or old lights that you’ve replaced with energy-efficient LED lights) can be recycled. Holiday light recycling programs take your old light strands and recycle the copper wire inside them. Check online for locations.
  • Clothing:
    Making room in your closet for those new clothes on your holiday wish list? Up to 95 percent of the clothes, shoes and linens thrown in the garbage could have been reused or recycled. Local organizations want all your clothes, shoes, and linens for reuse or recycling—even damaged goods—in any condition except wet. Learn more through Seattle Public Utilities and King County’s Threadcycle program.
  • Electronics:
    Recycle electronics at a Take it Back Network location. They will take back products such as computers, TVs, cell phones and certain other household electronics. You can recycle computers, monitors, TVs and e-readers for free at E-Cycle Washington locations.
  • Gift Wrap:
    Most wrapping paper can be recycled in your home recycling container. A little tape is fine, but remove the big pieces.
  • Greeting Cards and Envelopes:
    These can be recycled in your home recycling container.
  • Packing Peanuts:
    Foam packing peanuts are not recyclable, but they are reusable. Many gift stores or shipping centers will accept clean packing peanuts free of charge to reuse in packaging or shipping.
  • Ribbons and Bows:
    Save these to use again. Ribbons and bows that aren’t reusable go in the garbage.
  • Trees and Other Holiday Greens:
    Seattle residents can put their Christmas trees and holiday greens out next to their food and yard waste carts on their regular collection day at no extra charge from Dec. 26, 2015 through Jan. 31, 2016. Seattle residents can also drop off holiday trees and greens for free at Seattle Public Utilities’ South Transfer Station from Dec. 26, 2014 through Jan. 31, 2016.

For more information on how to recycle or dispose of holiday items, visit one of the following:

Seattle Public Utilities’ Look It Up tool

King County’s Recycle the Holidays page

2-Alarm Recycling Plant Fire Ruled as Accidental Fire

Photo Courtesy: John Odegard


Photo Courtes: John Odegard

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  December 31—Seattle Firefighters determined a two-alarm fire at a SODO recycling plant was an accidental fire. The cause was most likely the ignition of smoldering materials or spontaneous combustion of recycling materials.

At 10:44 p.m. on December 30, a 911 call came into the Fire Alarm Center reporting a small fire in pile of paper at the recycling center located in the 2700 block of 3rd Avenue South. The first arriving engine company found flames shooting from the roof of the metal building and a rubbish fire extending into the structure.  The crew called for a full-response bringing in approximately 40 firefighters to battle the flames.

The fire extended into more than 1500 cubic yards of recycled paper and plastics. Due to the large size of the building and the large volume of fire, a second alarm was called to bring in additional resources to help control the flames. At the height of the fire, approximately 90 firefighters were on-scene battling the fire.

Firefighters used several hose lines, Engine Company deck guns and the building’s sprinkler system to control the flames. Recycle plant personnel used front loader tractors to haul 3-yard bucket loads of smoldering debris out of the piles so firefighters could wet down the embers. It took nearly 8 hours to completely extinguish the fire.

Some of the challenges the firefighters faced were several-story high smoldering recycling piles that were unstable and at a risk of collapse. Also, sub-freezing temperatures caused discharged water to freeze forming black ice around the fire scene. The ice was a fall hazard to fire crews and also made it more challenging to reposition fire apparatus around the fire scene. SDOT sent a sand truck to help alleviate the black ice hazard.

Also, King County Metro sent a Metro Bus to act as a warming station for the firefighters to rehabilitate between battling the fire on the front lines.

The damage estimate is $10,000 including damage to the fiberglass siding of the business and damage to the electrical systems. We do not have an estimate for the damage to the recycling materials.



Reminder: New Requirements for Construction and Demolition Waste

Starting July 1, 2014, all construction and demolition projects will need to comply with new construction and demolition waste requirements before we issue a permit.

Why this is happening? Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and DPD are working together to increase recycling and salvage rates in an effort to achieve the city’s landfill diversion goals. Seattle’s current goal is to divert 70 percent of construction and demolition waste from landfills by the year 2020. Certain materials are easy to either salvage or recycle, so we now ban asphalt paving, brick, concrete, metal, cardboard, and new gypsum scrap from being sent to a landfill for disposal within the city of Seattle. SPU has set up a facility certification program identifying qualified receiving and recycling facilities that comply with the material ban requirement.

To help the City accomplish its waste diversion goal we require that you submit a Waste Diversion Plan with your building permit application for all construction projects with a work area greater than 750 square feet. Developing a plan prior to starting work will help building owners consider:

  • What “waste” materials might be produced from a project
  • Which facilities will manage banned materials appropriately
  • Who is going to take them there

For demolition projects and construction and alteration projects that include demolition, where the area of work is greater than 750 square feet, you are also required to submit a Deconstruction and Salvage Assessment. The assessment indicates which of the materials identified in the plan are potentially salvageable – please refer to the form for directions on who should fill it out. Although we do not require you to salvage materials from your project site, we want you to start thinking about what materials could be salvaged. Don’t forget that whole building relocation is the ultimate salvage solution!

You also need to submit a Waste Diversion Report to SPU within 60 days of the final inspection approval. The report does not have to match your plan since not everything can be anticipated prior to construction. However, the report should show:

  • What materials were actually produced during demolition
  • The quantity of each material
  • How you diverted the material
  • The identities of the hauler and receiving location

These requirements have been in effect since the 2012 Seattle Building Code was adopted in late December 2013. Starting July 1, 2014, we will begin enforcing the requirement on all construction and demolition projects before we issue your permits. If you do not submit a Deconstruction Salvage Assessment and/or the Waste Diversion Plan when you apply for a building permit application, you can email these forms at any time during the review process to

We understand that this is a change for our permit applicants and that there may be questions concerning the new requirements. Please submit questions about the general permit process to the DPD online Q & A, (under “Topic” select: General Permitting).  For technical questions about the Deconstruction Salvage Assessment and/or the Waste Diversion Plan, please submit questions to Seattle Public Utilities at


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