For Residents

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In Seattle, recyclable items and food waste are not allowed in the garbage (SMC 21.36.082-083). There are many environmental and economic benefits to keeping these items out of the garbage.

Tips for keeping recyclables and food waste out of the garbage:

  1. Set up a way to separately collect recyclable items, food waste, and garbage at home. (See below.)
  2. Know how to sort your waste.
  3. Follow these kitchen storage tips.
  4. Make sure you know where to dispose of recyclables, food waste, and garbage at your building. They could be containers in the parking lot, alley, and/or chutes on the same floor as your apartment.


Separately Collecting Waste Items

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Seattle households and business must have a system to separately collect recycle, food waste, and garbage. Below are ideas for people that live in apartments and may have limited space for containers.

If you would like to label the containers inside your apartment, submit a request for "Small Round Compost, Recycling, and Garbage Stickers." You can also request there a "Where Does It Go?" and "Food Scraps Storage Tips" brochures to learn what belongs in each container.

Food Waste (Compost)

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  • If there isn't a food scrap container inside your apartment, you can use any container, box, or bowl.
  • Households that don't produce a lot of food waste can use a small compostable bag that is kept in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Thrift stores sell used plastic pitchers and other containers at affordable prices.
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  • Other alternatives include empty large coffee or ice cream tubs.
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  • If you would like to empty your food scrap container less often, consider keeping it in the refrigerator or freezer. A rectangular container (like a pre-washed salad container) works best for this purpose.
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  • SPU provides eligible buildings with food scrap containers for each apartment unit. The containers belong to the building, not the residents, and management is expected to make sure that the containers are kept in the apartments after residents move out.
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Tips for keeping your food scrap container clean

  • Take the food waste from your apartment to the building compost cart every couple of days.
  • Wash your food scrap container after emptying it.
  • Layer wet food scraps with newspaper or food-soiled paper like napkins or paper towels.
  • Put a lid on the container.
  • Sprinkle baking soda on top of the food scraps.
  • Rub vinegar around the rim of the container.
  • Store the container in the freezer or refrigerator.
  • Use a compostable bag (optional).
  • View additional kitchen storage tips.

Recycling Tips for Multifamily Residents


  • You can recycle paper, cardboard, glass containers, metal containers, and plastic tubs, jugs, and bottles. (The items must be clean.) View more information and pictures of what belongs in recycling.
  • If there isn't a receptacle for recycle inside your apartment, Thrift stores sell used containers at affordable prices.
  • Other alternatives for collecting recyclables include a paper grocery bag, a large plastic tub, or a cardboard box.


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  • You can also use a plastic bag, but do not put the plastic bag into your building's recycle container. The plastic bag can either be reused or it should go into the garbage.
  • Please put recyclables loose into your building's container. Do not bag them! If you use a cardboard box, the box can be reused, or it can go into the container after you flatten it.



Look up answers in the Where Does it Go? Tool.

Contact us by email or leave us a voice message at (206) 684-8717.


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.