Normal garbage pick-up for Presidents’ Day

Just a quick reminder that all garbage, food and yard waste and recycling collections will be on normal schedule for Presidents’ Day. As usual, Seattle Public Utilities says customers should put out containers for collection by 7 a.m.

SPU says that customers can report a Monday missed garbage, yard waste or recycling collection after 8 a.m. on Tuesday by calling (206) 684-3000 or by visiting SPU’s website.

SPU’s new North Transfer Station now open for business

Seattle Public Utilities’ new North Transfer Station (NTS), which has been under construction since 2014, is now open for business.

The NTS, located at 1350 N 34th St, is an environmentally friendly state-of-the-art $108 million facility that aims to provide superior recycling and reuse capabilities along with safe and efficient handling of the city’s garbage.

According to SPU, the new station is expected to serve Seattle’s mounting solid waste demands for at least the next 50 years.

The facility is a huge improvement over its predecessor (affectionately known as “the dump”) which operated at the same location for more than half a century. The NTS has a separate building for recyclable and reusable materials and an increased capacity on the tipping floor to handle garbage, food and yard waste. That means more materials recycled and less going to the landfill.

The old north station, built long before recycling was introduced, was designed to process all solid waste only as garbage. Today, Seattle recycles almost 60 percent of its solid waste, separating it into multiple waste streams. Space is required, however, to do this work efficiently.

“This facility allows us to have less of an impact on the environment, while safely and sustainably handling the increasing waste demands of our growing city,” says SPU General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Mami Hara.

In addition to its environment-friendly design, according to Hara, the new station provides greater safety for utility workers and the public. SPU designed and constructed the NTS and will be responsible for its operation.

“Customers played an important role in the design of the building, and I’m appreciative of their collaboration and thoughtful recommendations,” says Hara.

The NTS features two green roofs and porous pavement to slow storm water, solar panels to generate electricity, and translucent panels to allow natural light in the tipping building and the recycling center. Other features include recycled roofing shingles and ground-up asphalt paving, as well as a public-art sculpture made from salvaged rebar from the old station.

According to SPU, the NTS, which is unique in its proximity to residents and a growing urban village area, was constructed and designed to minimize sight issues and preserve view corridors.

Additional details about the new transfer station’s features include:

  • Better customer safety. The NTS has flat floors for unloading and sorting. Without an open pit, customers are safer and at less risk for slips and falls. Regular self-haul customer traffic paths are separated from the garbage trucks, improving both safety and system efficiency.
  • More capacity and efficiency. There is dedicated space at the NTS to process more recycling. Residential and commercial haulers will use separate entrances to improve traffic flow and customer safety. New customer routing will decrease lines that extend onto adjacent streets.
  • Cleaner and Greener. The NTS includes more covered and enclosed spaces, a better ventilation system, automated rolling access doors, and entrance and exits designed to reduce noise and odor impacts to the neighborhood.
  • Space to create community. East of the NTS, SPU has created more than an acre of open space that not only buffers the adjacent neighbors from the station, but also includes a play area for children, a sports court, an open lawn, walkways and static exercise stations.
  • Public art. The new station includes new public art (made from material recycled from the old transfer station, of course!) by artist Jean Shin.
  • The facility will be LEED Gold certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. Solar panels produce up to 150 kilowatts of electricity used on-site, and green stormwater infrastructure, including green roofs and pervious paving, reduce stormwater runoff.
  • Two 90-ton compactors were salvaged from the old station, rehabilitated and reused in the new NTS rather than purchasing new ones.
  • Inside the station, a second-floor gathering room includes informational displays and an overview of tipping floor activities for public education.

SPU is hosting an Open House event for the community to see the new NTS this Saturday, December 10, from 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. All are welcome.

The NTS is open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Customers can ask questions via the Transfer Station information line at (206) 684-8400.

The NTS does not accept household hazardous waste. The North Household Hazardous waste facility is located at 12550 Stone Ave. N.

Click here to learn more about the new NTS.

Council votes to ban “greenwashing” of non-compostable bags

Last week, The City Council voted unanimously to make Seattle the first place in the nation to ban the use of misleading green- and brown-tinted non-compostable plastic bags.

The lawmakers also moved to prohibit the use of false “eco” labeling on non-compostable bags, and to make permanent Seattle’s five-cent charge for recyclable paper shopping bags.

“Now residents will be able to tell which bags are truly compostable and which are not because bag manufacturers and retailers will help provide clarity rather than confusion,” says Sego Jackson, a waste-prevention expert at Seattle Public Utilities.

According to the City, food waste composting in Seattle has increased every year since 2008, when its collection was made available for all single-family residents.

Many Seattle residents use green tinted compostable bags to collect their food waste. However, most green produce-type bags are made of petroleum-based plastic.

Some plastic bags are mistaken for compostable because they are tinted green, have the words “eco” or “bio” and symbols such as leaves and trees printed on them. Some are printed with confusing terms such as degradable or biodegradable.

When people unknowingly use these “look-alike” plastic bags, they wind up polluting our local compost. The ordinance approved by the Council today, the first of its kind in the nation, will help keep plastic out of our compost.

The ordinance requires that all compostable bags provided to customers by retailers must be tinted green or brown and must be labeled compostable. The legislation also requires the bags to meet strict composting standards in order to be labeled as compostable.

Any provided plastic bag that is not compostable may not be tinted green or brown. Confusing or misleading terms such as “degradable” will not be allowed on bags provided to customers.

The ordinance also makes permanent the current requirement that retailers charge at least five cents for each large recycled paper bag provided to customers. Plastic carryout bags are already banned by Seattle Code and will continue to be banned.

According to the City, since the bag ban ordinance became law, in 2012, residents have continued to increase their use of reusable bags and decreased the plastic bags in residential garbage by half.

SPU Program offers local home owners free water-saving toilets

Seattle Public Utilities is encouraging locals to learn more about the Water Conservation Program’s free toilet program.

The program is offering local residents the chance to save money and the environment by installing water-saving toilets.

SPU has partnered with Sound Generations Minor Home Repair program to install the toilets and recycle old toilets free of charge.

To be eligible, you must receive a Seattle Public Utilities water bill, live in the home you own, have toilets that were installed before 2004 and meet income guidelines.

If you are interested call Sound Generations at (206) 448-5751 or visit www.seattle.gov/util/FreeToilets to get started!

Normal garbage pick-up for Presidents’ Day

Just a quick reminder that all garbage, food and yard waste and recycling collections will be on normal schedule for Presidents’ Day. As usual, Seattle Public Utilities says customers should put out containers for collection by 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

SPU says that customers can report a Monday missed garbage, yard waste or recycling collection after 8 a.m. on Tuesday by calling (206) 684-3000 or by visiting SPU’s website.

Be prepared for high winds and heavy rain

A big storm is headed our way with winds picking up tonight, followed by heavy rain expected before sunrise tomorrow. According to King5, moderate to intense rain will fall from about 4 to 6 a.m. King5 says to expect one to three inches of rain to fall.

The heavy rain this time of year means Seattle is primed for urban flooding. Seattle Public Utilities is urging people adopt a drain and clean out leaves and debris from the storm drains in front of their house.

The number for reporting flooding issues is 206-386-1800.

Seattle City Light crews are prepared for the high winds. “With many leaves still on area trees to catch the wind and rain that will weigh trees down, this storm could blow trees and branches into power lines, causing outages,” Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said. “Our crews are ready to respond and restore service as quickly and as safely as possible, but it is always important for each of us to be prepared.”

City Light has this map to track power outages. If your power goes out or if you spot a downed power line, assume it’s live and call (206) 684-3000.

Both City Light and SPU urge residents to put together a survival kit with enough food and supplies to last your family for at least three days. Click here for a check list and other tips.

Go on the Rainwise Walking Tour

Take a walking tour of Ballard’s Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) on Saturday and learn about getting your own raingarden – paid for my the city. The Rainwise Walking Tour will highlight rain gardens, landscaping designed for stormwater to soak into the ground and “green” alleys, which are made of porous concrete that water will soak through. The GSI is an effort to control the approximately 1.3 million gallons of stormwater that currently overflows into Salmon Bay and Lake Washington.

According to this flyer (.pdf), participants will:

  • Learn why Ballard is leading with green.
  • Discover how to create a beautiful yard and receive a RainWise rebate.
  • See rebated rain gardens and cisterns on private property.
  • Meet face to face with contractors to help get you started.
  • The walking tour is anytime between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and starts at the Sunset Hill Community Center (3003 NW 66th St.) You can RSVP (rainwise@seattle.gov) or just show up.

    Viaduct closure means earlier garbage pickup

    Get your garbage, recycling and food and yard waste cans out early this week. Instead of the normal 7 a.m., Seattle Public Utilities says to have the cans at the curb by 6 a.m. SPU says that this is in response to the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure. Only northwest Seattle is affected by this change – those north of the ship canal and west of I-5.

    If a customer’s garbage, yard waste or recycling collection is missed, report it after 6 p.m. on the day it was missed by calling 206-684-3000 or click here.

    Apartment/condo dwellers must now foodcycle

    Updated: From Marcia Rutan in comments: Just to clarify, as the project manager for this program, properties are required to provide the food and yard waste cart. However, residents of apt and condos are not required to sort their food into the cart. They can still put it into the garbage. It’s great to see the enthusastic response even with optional participation!

    Food scraps, napkins, pizza boxes and other compostable items must go in the new green bin that many people in Ballard recently received.

    Photo of a new food & yard waste bin sent to us by Robby Delaware.

    While single-family homes have had food and yard waste collection for several years, a new city ordinance goes into effect today requiring apartment and condo buildings with five or more units to subscribe to food waste collection service. “The intent of this law is to ensure that all residents can compost their food scraps and yard waste, which reduces waste sent to the landfill by making it into compost for local parks and gardens,” Brett Stav with Seattle Public Utilities says.

    For more information on the new rules regarding food waste collection for apartment/condos, click here. (Thanks Robby for the tip!)

    Failed roadside raingardens a lesson for the city

    Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is continuing its $500,000 project to remove some of the roadside raingardens and restore the planting strips to their original look.

    One of the bulb-out raingardens that has been filled in with grass.

    Earlier this week the Department of Planning and Development released SPU’s proposal to remove ten of the 13 bulb-outs. The proposal states that SPU will “restore the curb-line, roadway surfaces, and planting/parking strips to their former condition. The project also would install under-drains in some of the raingardens on 28th Avenue Northwest to eliminate surface ponding.” Information on how to appeal this plan or make comments can be found here. The project is expected to start late next month.

    One of the failed roadside raingardens that has been filled in with dirt.

    Mike Eagan with SPU tells us that while one-third of the raingardens failed, two-thirds are either working or will be working as soon as the retrofit is complete. “Although the results were not what SPU expected, it succeeded as a ‘pilot project’ in that it provided some important lessons, including the development (again, with community input) of designs that will help reduce Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) throughout the city,” Eagan says.

    A look at one of the roadside raingardens from May

    Ballard is a high priority for CSO reduction. “State and federal laws now require Seattle to reduce CSOs to no more than once a year per drainage basin,” says Eagan. “Ballard’s two drainage basins experienced 93 CSOs last year, dumping over 43 million gallons of combined stormwater and raw sewage into Salmon Bay.” Those numbers are about 25-percent or more of the city’s entire CSO volume in 2010, Eagan tells us. “For example, in December more than 23.5 million gallons overflowed into Salmon Bay. Even this past June, we saw six storm-related CSOs and four of those were in Ballard, spilling over half a million gallons of combined stormwater and raw sewage into Salmon Bay – 95% of Seattle’s total CSO volume for the month.”