Seattle garbage pickup may be every-other-week

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by ALLEN SCHAUFFLER / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on February 9, 2011 at 6:01 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 9 at 7:15 PM

SEATTLE – Garbage customers in Seattle may be asked to hold onto their trash a week longer than normal. The city is considering switching to a once-ever-other-week pickup system.

Western Washington residents are gradually doing a better job at separating garbage and recyclables, as well as keeping compostable, organic material out of the trash. That's part of the reason behind the push.

The proposed change is just for garbage and just for single family homes, not apartment complexes.

But, surveys by Seattle Public Utilities show that the majority of Seattleites just aren't ready for it. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed say they would be "not very satisfied" or "extremely unsatisfied" if they couldn't count on weekly garbage pick-up.

But, only about 19 percent say they would be "extremely or very satisfied."

Madalen Lickey is one of those in that minority.

"It's just me and the cat," she said.

She has cut back her garbage output to just a few small bags a week.

But Chavela Johnson is in the majority.

"It would be a mess," said Johnson. "I have kids. I have diapers! Garbage overflows, where is it going to go? You can't hold it for two weeks!"

The change could save the city $6 million a year. Customers could save, too.

"If you keep your same can size and go to every-other-week collection, the bill would go down somewhat. Not half, because there is a lot in the solid waste bill other than the cost of collecting," said Tom Croll, Solid Waste Director.

It won't happen fast. Johnson and others will have time to figure out how to adjust. If the Seattle City Council approves the move, Waste Management will be testing the service cut-back in a handful of neighborhoods starting in July. Even if they decide to move ahead, the changes wouldn't be in place city-wide until 2013.

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