Time for another look at every-other-week garbage pickup, 7 years after test run?

Back in 2012, the city did a test run of every-other-week garbage pickup in a few neighborhoods including 200 households in Highland Park. Then in 2013-2014, it floated the idea of making the change citywide – but eventually scrapped the idea. Now the concept is up for discussion again. Seattle Public Utilities is on the agenda of the City Council’s Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, Arts Committee – chaired by District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold – tomorrow to revisit the idea. No formal proposal, just a briefing and discussion looking back at the pilot, including this slide deck:

Though some things have changed in the years since the pilot – required food-scrap composting, for example, has reduced odor-producing trash – the presentation still concludes it’s not time, yet, for a new proposal to change trash pickup to every other week. However, the city “could consider providing
voluntary, subscription EOW garbage collection,” SPU suggests. The meeting featuring the discussion is set for 9:30 am tomorrow (Tuesday, July 9th) at City Hall, streamed via Seattle Channel.

42 Replies to "Time for another look at every-other-week garbage pickup, 7 years after test run?"

  • JG July 8, 2019 (1:53 pm)

    I’d volunteer for every other week pickup!

    • sbre July 9, 2019 (8:37 am)

      My home could easily accommodate an every-other week pick-up without a problem, however looking down our alley at some of the bulging cans waiting to be dumped I foresee ugliness. How much debris will be blown around our neighborhood, the next neighborhood and the whole dang city?!! Although this is a great idea on paper, in real life, NO THANK YOU!!!   

  • Swede. July 8, 2019 (2:20 pm)

    So the cost will be cut in half too right?

    • WSB July 8, 2019 (2:32 pm)

      No, and if you scroll through the slide deck – and/or our coverage back in the first half of the decade – you’ll see that’s one argument against it. The city’s still picking up X amount of trash in this arrangement, just all at once instead of half-X one week and half-X the next. The costs would not be halved, so the charges wouldn’t be either. – TR

    • KBear July 8, 2019 (3:06 pm)

      It’s true the amount of trash would be the same, but the city would not be proposing this if there weren’t substantial savings to be had through improved efficiency. No one should expect their bill to be halved, but some savings should still be passed on to the customers.

      • Maria July 8, 2019 (5:04 pm)

        Labor is generally a huge percentage of cost.  So theoretically labor should be halved, but even if not truly halved there is obvious cost savings in running equipment significantly less.I can’t open the attached deck so can’t see what the numbers are, but this seems like a win for Waste Management unless the costs savings trickle back to SPU and the citizens.Perhaps the thought is how to avoid or delay future cost increases.  If so, that should be the stated purpose.

    • bandz July 8, 2019 (3:43 pm)

      oh sweet summer child

  • Alayna July 8, 2019 (2:40 pm)

    I really hope this strategy would encourage people to produce less waste. Anything to help lessen our collective environmental impact please. 

    • cjboffoli July 8, 2019 (6:22 pm)

      Alayna,  I think a lot of people would love to produce less waste. But we also live inside the system that inundates us with goods and services that are packaged within an inch of their lives.  There is only so much one can so. Systems need to change.

      • KM July 8, 2019 (7:14 pm)

        Luckily we don’t have to wait for the system to change to reduce our waste. Pushing companies and local governments to adopt more sustainable practices can happen in tandem with more sustainable shopping practices by individuals. There’s a lot of people out there doing just that, Seattle Zero Waste is a good resource.

      • Tsurly July 8, 2019 (7:41 pm)

        People voluntarily make the choice to purchase “goods and services packaged within an inch of their lives.” My family of four barely fills a 20 gallon can over a months time. It’s not hard to do.

  • Mike July 8, 2019 (2:48 pm)

    I’d like to have every week recycling pickup.  Don’t really have much trash anymore..

    • sam-c July 8, 2019 (4:30 pm)

      Same, we would switch to every other week garbage.  But would really appreciate every week recycling.  They say the adding composting has reduced the odor- producing trash, but they are forgetting…… dog poo

  • LJ July 8, 2019 (2:50 pm)

    I would also volunteer for bi-weekly garbage service and while we’re reducing the  carbon footprint of WM how about every other day  USPS service too.I don’t need junk mail 6 days a week.

    • Azimuth July 8, 2019 (4:10 pm)

      Maybe USPS could direct deposit of junk mail to the recycling bin.

      • Km July 8, 2019 (7:18 pm)

        I think changing how our information is sold and the laws around involuntarily signing customers up for marketing lists needs to change. If I order from Nordstrom once a years, why am I re-registered for their marketing postcards and catalogues if I’ve already opted out, and why is my information shared with other companies? It’s infuriating. DMAChoice and Optoutprescreen can only do so much.

  • JTM July 8, 2019 (3:33 pm)

    If anything, we need one a week recycling pickup. In this age of Amazon boxes and sustainable packaging, that bin gets fuller than everything else. 

  • JC July 8, 2019 (3:34 pm)

    If they will lower our monthly bills, I would be interested to hear more, but not if they will not be lowering our Bill!! The only thing the City of Seattle seems to be interested in recently, is making more money!

    • Jon Wright July 8, 2019 (4:57 pm)

      It’s likely one of those things that won’t necessarily yield a big savings but would help keep keep a lid on (heh) future rate increases.

  • Mj July 8, 2019 (3:39 pm)

    KBear hit the nail square on with his comment.  

  • Terri July 8, 2019 (4:56 pm)

    Excellent! Anything and everything we can do to hammer home the message that the amount of garbage we produce and the energy required for its disposal is totally unsustainable.

    • Mike July 8, 2019 (5:15 pm)

      Yup, please stop flushing your toilet while you’re at it, remove your living structure and plant trees where it’s at, replace all the pavement with dirt again, never ever use any form of transportation using any metals or plastics, stop wearing shoes brought here on a container ship, don’t heat your living space, never use a refrigerator or freezer, stop using any soap or cleaning agent, don’t use sunblock, oh if only people could stop doing things that harm the environment.  Or… We could be realistic

  • Joan July 8, 2019 (5:16 pm)

    I agree with the need for weekly recycling collection. With two cats and zillions of cat food cans each week, plus boxes, and junk mail (as Azimuth said), it gets full quickly. And in summer, twice a week for yard waste would be great! I do tons of pruning, etc.!

  • Plf July 8, 2019 (5:52 pm)

    West Seattle has experienced an increase in rats with the prolific developmentthis us a bad idea from a public health perspective, be surprised they don’t weigh in on the idea 

  • Jethro Marx July 8, 2019 (5:57 pm)

    200 pounds of various refuse, on average, per household, per week, is where we’re at? Maybe part of the solution is to stop buying so much stupid s#!%. I probably run a little under, and only put out my comically large yard waste bin about twice a year, but also forget to put the cans out at all roughly every other week. So, I don’t know; sign me up, maybe? Could we get them to pick it up less often but like, clean up the yard and driveway a bit? I confess I don’t actually care how much I pay, not because I’m rich, but rather lazy.

  • jack July 8, 2019 (6:58 pm)

    Well, with the new lower capacity garbage bins EOW collections must mean your allowed to put out a bag since your bin is most likely full.  Great news for the Crows and all the other critters spreading our discarded wealth.  Even if you hold on to your extra garbage in your home until collection day the Crows are there the moment you walk away.  The whole purpose of our current heavy duty containers is to keep vermin out.  Now plastic bags from the second week is ok?I talk to my Waste Disposal Driver most weeks and thank him for his hard work.  They love the restricted containers compared to the small ones they had to pick up that could have great differences in weight.  Now everything is rolled to the truck and the truck does the lifting.   With EOW they have to pick up bags,  if their not busted open, then they will leave them.  A voluntary system would become a nightmare for the Waste Disposal Drivers having to ID the trash can (who does, who doesn’t week to week) with an address every pickup day.  A great feel good for people getting rid of their garbage but an unnecessary burden on the Drivers already heavy workload.  

  • Rumbles July 8, 2019 (7:39 pm)

    No thanks, the garbage stinks enough after one week — let alone two.  Plus, like retail “self-check” likes the only savings will be for the entity, in this case, the City.  I’m happy to keep working on reducing my waste, but it’s gonna stink after two weeks especially in the summer!  Plus, I’m not interested in MORE rats!!

  • buttercup July 8, 2019 (8:22 pm)

    If I understand correctly its the same amount of trash yet only half the labor t pick it up. It was stated that labor is the biggest cost so it should make a difference as long as the city is benefiting and not Waste Management.  Also, stop Saturday mail delivery and place two mail box as on every block. Easier for postal delivery people, more can be accomplished in a day rather than walking thousands of miles each year. Saving on vechicles  and fuel.

  • michael Waldo July 8, 2019 (9:11 pm)

    I don’t need to be lectured and shamed because my garbage can is full every week. Happy for you if you can get by with every other week. My household cannot. If I am going to pay the same amount, I want my garbage picked up weekly.

  • 1994 July 8, 2019 (9:56 pm)

    Everyone can try to make less garbage. I pay $1 a day for the garbage and yard/food waste service with the smallest cans offered.  Most weeks my garbage consists of a grocery store produce size bag, the yard waste can may be full depending on the season, and the recycle can gets the bulk of the household stuff.  Any cost savings  by reducing pick up frequency will be felt by the service providers, not the citizens who pay for the service.  Contracts keep the workers earning a living wage which is what most of us want.Jethro is overpaying for yard waste service based on their comment they “only put out my comically large yard waste bin about twice a year,”  Don’t be lazy, check out your bill and ask for smaller yard waste can to reduce your bill.

  • Seattlite July 8, 2019 (9:58 pm)

    I wonder how every other week pickup would work in the area I live in since the garbage and food waste receptacles lined up on the curbs seem filled to the brim each week. Weekly pickup is best to keep the rodents, rabbits and crows from  getting into the receptacles. 

  • Jim P> July 8, 2019 (10:28 pm)

    Quote – “Bill savings were minor”:.  If it doesn’t save me a decent amount of money I am not interested. I don’t want this stuff sitting around longer than needed.A hidden trap:  They charge a hefty fee if you overfill your bin (by their definition) or have extra bags of stuff, guess what’s going to happen a lot more often with every two week pickup? Especially for people who took the “low cost” mini bins.Nope, only entity I see benefiting is the city and I do see higher fees when all is done.

  • TJ July 8, 2019 (10:29 pm)

    There needs to be a significant drop in price, otherwise a big no. And the idea that it may hold off future rate increases makes no sense as rate increases have easily outpaced cost of living increases in recent years. No big surprise there really 

  • Jeannie July 8, 2019 (10:30 pm)

    Awful idea. We try not to waste, but our garbage container is close to full every week. As is our compost container. What are we supposed to do with our extra garbage? Let it pile up and stink? 

  • Brian July 8, 2019 (11:02 pm)

    I’m all for increased spending on educating citizens on how to make easy lifestyle and marketplace choices that reduce waste.  In order to reduce waste wqe should charge for waste removal by the pound.I like the once a week garabage and green waste pick up and wish recycling was also weekly.Future automation should continue to improve productivity.   Also as density increases we should gain efficiencies through economies of scale.

  • McFail July 8, 2019 (11:41 pm)

    I think last week (and other times sporadically) I noticed the garbage and compost going in the same truck…  

  • Question Mark July 9, 2019 (10:41 am)

    Would the city double the size of garbage bins allowed at the same price? And would a half-price option be offered to households that keep the same size bin?Those could be sweeteners that would increase acceptance of the idea.

  • norskgirl July 9, 2019 (11:13 am)

    Does the city think that just because they reduce the pick up days by half, that correspondingly the amount of garbage will also be (magically?) decreased?  I am being as efficient with my garbage vs compost vs recycle as I can for my household.  Having my garbage picked up only every other week without increasing my can size to accommodate the weekly overflow is not an option.  (Is that the kicker-city will charge more for the larger containers required for the “overflow” of garbage households “produce” with every other week pickup?  When in fact the city produced this overflow by decreasing the pick up schedule.)  Also, reducing the pickup by half must reduce the costs for staffing and truck gas/maintenance by some amount!

  • ARPigeonPoint July 9, 2019 (11:53 am)

    Yes, because kitty litter smells amazing after two weeks.

  • Andros July 9, 2019 (12:43 pm)

    Can we deal with the homeless issue first?  Just saying…this is less of a priority.

  • KBear July 9, 2019 (1:38 pm)

    Those of you clamoring for weekly recycling pickup: You do realize you can already add additional recyclables on your collection day at no extra charge. All you need to do is put out another container. It  can even be a cardboard box. Clearly the city is trying to reduce the number of truck trips. They’re not going to be adding more trips to implement weekly recycling pickup.

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