Debate Magazine

City of Seattle Would Save $6.5M If Trash Pickup Made Biweekly

By Eowyn @DrEowyn

money The Seattle City Council is expected to decide by March whether or not to begin picking up trash every other week.  The shift is projected to save the city about $6.5 million.

The plan is being dubbed the “One Less Truck Project.” While it will help the city budget, garbage collection prices will remain the same.

“Garbage bills also pay for recycling to be picked up,  they pay for graffiti to be painted out, things like that,” said Brett Stav with Seattle Public Utilities explaining why your bill won’t go down.

Public meetings with neighborhood associations began Tuesday night in West Seattle with representatives from SPU.

Several people raised concerns, mostly about trash pickup once temperatures start rising.  “I would be more concerned about the hotter months in the summer when stuff is just sitting out there, rotting, getting nasty and whatnot,” said one resident.

The city tested a pilot program last summer in West Seattle and there were mixed reviews. Some in the tested areas told KING 5 they didn’t mind the change, but some had to go to bigger trash cans, meaning a bigger bill. Others weren’t fans of the smell.

The program’s satisfaction rate overall was about 63 percent. SPU expects that rate to grow as people adjust to the changes.

Overall trash satisfaction rates on the weekly schedule are 89 percent.

Seattle would not be the first major city to experiment with such an idea. Renton already collects every two weeks. Residents and city officials say they are satisfied overall as worries over trash piling up didn’t pan out.

Renton residents did receive larger cans to help them adjust. It hasn’t been decided if Seattle will do the same.  Portland went to a biweekly schedule in June of 2012. It was the country’s first municipality to adopt such a measure.

The city ran a year-long pilot program and gathered surveys from over 2,000 households before putting the plan to a vote. While reducing trash service, Portland also increased recycling and compost pickup. The result was a 44 percent reduction in landfill waste.

If Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council approve the biweekly plan, it would start sometime in 2015.


Only in government can they get away with cutting your service in half while not changing the price – and they are the only provider for that specific type of service. Nice racket they got going on.


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