SPU working to catch up on recycling backlog after winter storms


SEATTLE — Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is still working to catch up on missed or delayed collections after last week’s snowstorms.

As temperatures rose and rain washed most of the snow away, piles of trash and recycling at the curb have become the most visible reminders of the storm that ground Seattle to a halt.

Vivian Doorn lives in Wallingford. She said missed pickups caused her small trashcan to get fairly full – and heavy.

“I worry the workers might break their backs because it’s heavy from here to the sidewalk,” said Doorn.

Vivian Doorn Wallingford

Vivian Doorn outside her Wallingford home. She worried her trash can might get too heavy for sanitation workers after snow forced missed collections.


Collection came through for trash this week, but recycling is still delayed. SPU believes about 4,000-5,000 customers across the city still need recycling collected.

Doorn’s neighbors’ recycling was overflowing the can – a pile of cardboard at the curb.

“A lot of trash,” she laughed. 

Still, she said – being patient didn’t bother her. Others wanted more urgent results.

“There was some grumbling in the household, but we managed,” said Nancy Miles, who lives nearby.

SPU’s Ken Snipes said it’s working to resolve those recycling backlogs as soon as possible.

“We’re coming, we’re coming,” Snipes said. “As fast as we can.”

Snipes said trash pickup was largely caught up – mostly because the city asked contractors to bring extra resources online. Recycling pickup is now their main concern post-snowstorm.

“Trying to make sure we get to them and answer their responses,” he said.

He said customer service representatives are working in a call center downtown to coordinate a response. If you believe your home may have been missed, don’t hesitate to contact them at 206-684-3000. The city is treating these as missed pickups to respond when possible.

Snipes said though many mail or delivery trucks were able to navigate roads soon after the storm, garbage trucks are larger and heavier – and require more delays as a precaution.

“They’re not nimble vehicles, and they don’t do well in inclement weather – snow, ice, and really wet conditions,” he said.

Doorn understood – and preached patience.

“When they get here, they will get here,” she said.

SPU also wrote that if your collection was missed, extras can be put out this week at no charge. You can read more tips on that here.

Customers with two missed collections for inclement weather can expect a $10 bill credit, SPU wrote.

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