Deciding on Compaction

Using compactors to compress garbage and/or recyclables can save you money and may be the best option for medium-large commercial buildings and multi-family or mixed-use buildings with 70 units or more.

Is your building suitable for compaction systems to be installed? Requirements include:

  • Access for the service provider to a level, Seattle Public Utilities-approved collection location at street or alley level.
  • Compacted containers must be staged for service, either inside the building or with SDOT and SPU approved permission in the right-of-way.
  • Per Land Use Code, SPU drivers do not move or reposition dumpsters that contain compacted garbage or recyclables. You must provide direct access to the container to ensure service. Storage rooms must be of sufficient size to accommodate the solid waste storage requirements based on property type (for multifamily, the number of units). .Note that larger high-rise buildings and large mixed-use buildings may require larger compactors, or space for several dumpsters to hold compacted materials.
  • 14' overhead clear to service roll-off compactors.
  • 24' overhead clear to service front-load compactors (under 6 cubic yards).
  • Sufficient backing radius and turnarounds for solid waste trucks.

Consider the following additional items when making a decision about compactors:

  • Resident access: Will residents use chutes or will maintenance move carts to the dumpster, or a combination of the two?
  • Will residents take materials directly to a consolidated solid waste room, located on the ground floor or other floor accessible to the street?

To find out more about compaction systems, search online using the keywords "garbage dumpster compactors."


Estimating food waste

One 96 gallon cart is required for every 50 apartment units. Commercial food waste must be stored in separate containers and service levels are decided upon with the service provider. Food service businesses frequently need more than one cart (or a dumpster) for food waste.

The cart(s) must be accessible on a level surface. If a cart needs to be moved on a slope, a combination of smaller carts is recommended due to the heavy weight of food and yard waste. View additional information about multi-family food waste.


New building projects

A SPU Solid Waste review is required for proposed multi-family or mixed-used buildings with 5+ units of housing, as well as commercial or industrial projects. Submit the relevant application materials to


Public Utilities

Andrew Lee, General Manager and CEO
Address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 4900, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34018, Seattle, WA, 98124-5177
Phone: (206) 684-3000

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Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is comprised of three major direct-service providing utilities: the Water Utility, the Drainage and Wastewater Utility, and the Solid Waste Utility.