‘Where does it go?’ — No big changes for Seattle recycling… yet

Inside a Seattle sorting facility (Image: CHS)

The short version: After a study, there will be no immediate changes to Seattle’s curbside recycling program — even though your “aspirational recycling” efforts are gumming up the system.

The long version is more detailed.

Seattle and King County are loving recycling to death. People are so excited about putting items in the blue bin instead of the black one, that it’s become a problem. The two main culprits are not properly cleaning items before recycling them, and putting things in recycling that aren’t actually recyclable – a phenomenon called aspirational recycling.

Residents are putting items in so often that China, which had been the market for about half of our recyclables, pulled out of the market. (It’s not just us. China is refusing recyclables from across the country.) The problem, say experts, are that items like plastic wrap, individual plastic bags, and soiled glass and plastic among others, gum up the works in the recycling machinery. Continue reading

Can do? City working with two Capitol Hill clubs after big trash and recycling bills

Seattle Public Utilities says it is working with two Capitol Hill clubs that have racked up big garbage charges after a program to remove dumpsters from Pike/Pine streets was rolled out this fall.

Ownership at Neumos and Chop Suey have complained about large bills, SPU says, after joining other area businesses in the change to three-times-a-day garbage, and twice-a-day recycling pickup using plastic bags in an effort to remove dumpsters from sidewalks and streets to make the neighborhood, officials hope, cleaner and safer.

For some, the program is also more expensive. Neumos co-owner Jason LaJeunesse has complained of what he says is a 255% jump in the club’s garbage bill under the new system which puts the 10th/Pike establishment on pace for more than $4,000 per month in trash and recycling pickup fees. “Have you guys heard any grumblings from business owners about the extreme financial hikes in the city mandated garbage program?” LaJuenesse asked in an email sent to media earlier this month. “Neumos is 35-40k a year more, when we were guaranteed it would be a 17% hike in cost.”

While SPU says Chop Suey has also complained of a big jump, other business owners around Pike/Pine CHS spoke with said the costs were high but in line with past charges. Continue reading

EcoDistrict is diving for dumpster solutions on Capitol Hill

(Image: Kate Clark via Flickr)

(Image: Kate Clark via Flickr)

We all contribute to it, but most people never want to think about trash until it becomes a totally unavoidable problem. Some would say the dumpsters around Pike/Pine have reached that tipping point.

As part of their mission to foster a more livable urban neighborhood, the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict will use $10,000 from a city grant to develop solutions to make the neighborhood’s dumpsters less of a nuisance.

Finding a way to get the dumpsters out of the public right of way will be near the top of the to-do list.

“You can’t permanently store garbage receptacles in the right of way,” said EcoDistrict director Joel Sisolak. “But the challenge is if you don’t put them in the right of way, where can you put them?” Continue reading