Seattle shows significant improvement
in recycling rate with new ordinance
The City of Seattle began enforcing an ordinance
prohibiting recyclables from the garbage six months ago and results
indicate a positive effect on the city’s residential and commercial
From January 1 to June 30, approximately 95 percent
of the apartments and businesses inspected were recycling correctly.
Of the approximately 3.9 million household garbage cans collected,
only 892 were left behind for having more than 10 percent recyclables
A charge of $50 is levied to businesses, apartments
and condominiums upon the third infraction of too many recyclables
left in garbage.
Seattle’s recycling rate sank from 45 percent
in 1995 to a low of 38 percent in 2003. Passage of the recycling
ordinance in November 2003 by the Seattle City Council was part
of Mayor Greg Nickels’ 60 percent Recycling Plan, which included
several new city recycling programs to help the city reach its goal
of recycling 60 percent of all its waste by 2010. Officials expect
the increased recycling will save the city an additional $2 million
Seattle spends $19 million each year to send more
than 900 million pounds of garbage to a landfill. In 2005, the city’s
residential recycling program saved $4.4 million (comparing landfill
costs to recycling processing costs) by collecting and selling more
than 160 million pounds of recyclables to markets.
Seattle residents recycled 5.8 million more pounds
in 2005 than in 2004. The city’s 2005 overall garbage disposal
tonnage was the lowest in 10 years, despite population growth.
The City of Seattle was recently honored by the
Solid Waste Association of North America with two Excellence Awards
for public education and communications. In April, the American
Forest & Paper Association named the City of Seattle its 2006
“Community Recycler of the Year.”
The city offers free recycling resources to businesses,
apartments and households. For information about Seattle’s
recycling program, visit www.seattle.gov/util/services.