Frequently Asked Questions


What should be recycled or composted?


For a summary of common recyclable and non-recyclable items, see the "How It Works" section of the site.  For information on recycling other miscellaneous items, check out the "Solutions" section of the site or use Seattle Public Utilities' "Look It Up" feature.


Where do I put recyclable materials?


SPU supplies individual recycle bins for every dorm room and office space on campus as well as a number of large recycle containers in common locations throughout campus.  For more information, see the "How It Works" section. 


Where do I put compostable items?


Compost bins have been placed in central areas where food is often prepared or consumed. This includes residence hall lounges, department kitchenettes or break rooms, and food service locations.


What do I do with confidential recyclables?


Box, seal, and label the items as "confidential recycle."  Confidential recycle is picked up on a monthly schedule.  If you need your items picked up sooner, let us know.


What are the City of Seattle's laws regarding recycling and composting?


City of Seattle Ordinance #121372, effective January 1, 2005, and Ordinance #124313, effective July 1, 2014, prohibit the disposal of recyclables from residential and commercial garbage. Ordinance #124582, effective January 1, 2015 prohibits the disposal of food waste and compostable paper for residential and commercial garbage.


Businesses and residents are banned from putting significant amounts of recyclable paper, cardboard, glass and plastic bottles and jars, aluminum and tin cans, as well as food waste and compostable food-soiled paper products in their garbage containers. Yard waste has been prohibited from residential garbage since 1989.


Violation of these ordinances--having a significant amount of recyclable or compostable materials in the garbage--is met with two warnings before $50 citations are issued for each infraction. The City of Seattle defines a "significant amount" as more than 10% recyclable materials by volume when visually inspected by a Seattle Public Utilities inspector, contractor, or transfer station worker.