Zero Waste Seattle

Recycling For All

Commercial Recycling Report is Out!

Sustainable Seattle and Zero Waste Seattle conducted “Recycling For All” from June 2012 to March 2013 with the objective to research and then implement a pilot project examining ways to increase commercial recycling, especially in office buildings.  The underlying assumption is that increasing recycling/composting at work will improve the same behaviors at home resulting in higher waste diversion rates, less contamination in all waste streams, and overall decrease in greenhouse gas emissions associated with the city’s waste sector

Key findings are:

  • Composting service is available (at loading docks or alley/curbside) for most office buildings in downtown Seattle
  • Our pilot showed that improving infrastructure (blue plastic recycling bins at desks, large compost bins with lids and floor pedals) and instituting paper towel composting in restrooms tripled composting percentage of the waste stream (whereas cardboard recycling boxes at desks only doubled the percentage).
  • Paper towel composting in restrooms is easy to implement and was a big success (little to no contamination)
  • People are confused about coffee cups!  In Seattle, they are supposed to go into the recycling bin, but in our pilot project, we observed that many people put them in the compost or landfill bins instead. 

To see and download the report, go to the Reports Page (about halfway down, under the folder icon)

Getting ready for Fremont Parade 2013

Zero Waste Seattle is hosting Art For Social Change workshops at the Powerhouse in Fremont from April to June.  Come help make giant sea creatures out of different types of waste materials (think plastic bottles, Styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap, fabric che,  etc).  These will be for deployment as our ensemble at the June 22 Fremont Solstice Parade.  You will have fun!


Workshops are planned for 6:00 pm (although you can come later):

April 4

April 13

April 25

May 2

May 7

May 14

May 21
At Folklife (May 24-27) - Seattle Center

May 28

June 4

June 11

June 18


Please rsvp so we know to expect you.  No experience necessary.  All ages.  RSVP to Heather ( or Jake (

Fremont Solstice Parade 2012

The 2012 Fremont Solstice Parade
Zero Waste Seattle's entry into this year's parade was a fabulous 100+ foot long "Year of the Plastic Water Bottle Dragon" made of over 10,000 water bottles and a large number of plastic bags. 

Photo by Alan Berner, Seattle Times

Seattle City Council passes Bag Ordinance, December 2011
Zero Waste Seattle worked with our coalition partners (Environment WA, Surfrider Foundation, People For Puget Sound and Sierra Club) to help pass a new bag ordinance in Seattle Melbet app

We supported this action because:

  • Plastics harm (choke, poison, entangle) our wildlife, such as birds, fish, and whales.
  • We are working to reduce plastic pollution into our lakes, streams, Puget Sound and the ocean
  • Plastic bags are light-weight and easily blow into our waters.  They break down into tiny bits but don’t biodegrade for hundreds of years.
  • The tiny pieces of plastic, including plastic bag pieces, are called microplastics, and are floating in Puget Sound.  Every water sample taken in Puget Sound so far by researchers at UW Tacoma have plastic bits.
  • Tiny plastics are a pathway for toxic chemicals because persistent toxic chemicals like PCBs adsorb to plastic.   Fish eat these plastic bits.
  • Plastics are accumulating in our world’s oceans.  The most researched area, so far, is the North Pacific Gyre where a floating thin soup of plastics is in an area that is estimated to be greater than the size of Texas.


Reasons we supported the bag ordinance:

  • In Seattle, consumers use 292 million plastic bags every year. It's time for Seattle to join Portland, Bellingham, China and numerous other cities, counties and countries who have taken actions to reduce the use of plastic bags.
  • The goal of the city’s proposed single-use carryout bag ordinance is to eliminate the use of single-use bags in order to reduce marine debris and limit waste sent to the landfill.
  • The ordinance prohibits retailers from providing light-weight, single-use plastic carryout bags to customers at the point of sale. This includes any plastic carryout bag less than 2.25 mil thick, including bio-based plastic bags made from plant sources such as corn.
  • The ordinance imposes a 5 cent fee on recyclable paper carry-out bags that are grocery size or larger.  Stores keep the 5 cent fee.  Revenues generated by sales of paper bags remain with the stores.
  • The single-use carryout bag ordinance does not prohibit the distribution of produce bags (veggie bags), bags for frozen food, meat, and small items.  Also dry cleaner, newspaper bags are exempted
  • Restaurants and other food vendors may provide single-use plastic carryout bags to customers for the transportation of take-out food and liquids. This exemption is included for health and safety.
  • The intent of the proposed ordinance is to reduce the environmental impacts related to single-use plastic and paper carryout bags, and promote a shift toward the use of reusable bags
To see the final ordinance, click here.

To see Seattle council press release about the ordinance, click here

For FAQs about the bag ordinance, click here

Check out this short video: 
The Majestic Plastic Bag - A Mockumentary

For more information, please email Heather Trim at


We did it!

A major victory in 2010 was the passage of the City of Seattle's yellowpages opt-out ordinance.


We are pleased to announce that Seattle’s YELLOW PAGE OPT-OUT is up and running ….and further that on May 9, 2011, U.S. District Judge Robart denied an injunction request by publishers Dex, SuperMedia, and the trade group Yellow Pages Association, ruling that they had not shown they were likely to ultimately succeed on the merits of the case related to their assertion that the opt-out infringes upon their First Amendment right to free speech


The great news is that the new Seattle opt-out program is enforceable!  Any books that are delivered after someone has opted-out in a timely way (30-days in advance of delivery) will be potentially subject to a $125 fine.


Please opt-out at Seattle’s official site for all future deliveries of phonebooks:


When you get to the Catalog Choice website, you will have to register and then will be able to specify your request.  Catalog Choice (the city’s vendor for the opt-out) will then record your request and the yellow page companies are required to use this information when they are doing deliveries.


Please let Zero Waste Seattle know if you have any problems with this system. 


In addition to the yellow page opt-out ordinance, other zero waste successes last year included getting a requirement for landlords to provide compost pickup for apartment buildings (this will start in September), a pilot effort by the city to address plastic stretch film, and some additional actions to address construction and demolition waste.  And we are looking forward to even more zero waste progress in the next year. 

Successful Evening:

On January 27, 2011, we helped host a wonderful community discussion co-sponsored by Pacific Science Center and Seattle City Council.

TALKING TRASH: Saving Money and the Environment by Reducing Excess Packaging

—A community discussion open to all—

Thursday, January 27, 6–8:30 p.m. at NewHolly Gathering Hall, 7054 32nd Ave South, Seattle

Featured speakers:

·       Karen Raines, Director of Corporate Sustainability, Costco

·       Dominic Muren, Lecturer in Industrial Design, University of Washington

·      Chris Martin, President, CleanScape


Mission Statement:

Zero Waste Seattle promotes optimal management and conservation of resources, and the reduction of emissions that contribute to global warming, through advocacy and education.

Who we are:
Zero Waste Seattle is a non-profit partnership of citizens, organizations, and businesses working to promote sustainability through Zero Waste strategies.  Coalition member organizations include:  Sierra Club, Surfrider, People For Puget Sound, Environment WA, Coolmom

Bag Monster getting happy at the big Moving Planet event at
South Lake Union on September 25, 2011

Garbage found in stomach of dead grey whale (April 20, 2010) on West Seattle beach, including 20 plastic bags, duct tape, and a sweatpant leg

Globe with plastic bag trail - Fremont Solstice Parade, June 2011

Councilmember Mike O'Brien announcing the city's
yellow pages opt-out web page on May 5, 2011

Our objective:

Zero Waste Seattle promotes awareness and behavioral change by addressing the challenges of achieving zero waste goals.

Phone Book Fairy at Seattle Green Festival 2010

Current campaigns:
  • Reduce excess packaging
  • Secure FULL recycling at office and commercial buildings in Seattle
  • Increase Recycling of Use Carpets
  • Increase Reuse and Recycling of Demolition/Construction Waste
  • Enact every other week garbage pickup for residential
  • Increase school zero waste programs (and education)
  • Pass Opt-in for white pages
  • Producer responsibility fees

Previous campaigns:
  • Enact ban on plastic take-home bags and fee on paper bags
  • Enact Phone Book Opt-In
  • Compost Pickup for Apartment Buildings and Condos
  • Increase recycling of plastic stretch wrap (the wrap around pallets)
  • Increase Reuse and Recycling of Demolition/Construction Waste