Report: Recycling Seattleites keep tons of garbage from landfill

SEATTLE -- Recycling in Seattle is at an all-time high, according to a recent report by Seattle Public Utilities. But in order to achieve zero waste, the city says more work is needed.

Seattle City Councilman Richard Conlin recently highlighted the 2012 Recycling Rate Report, applauding the gains made in certain sections of the city.

"We have exceeded the recycling goal for both single-family residences, who now recycle 71.1 percent of their waste, and for the commercial sector, which currently recycles 61.4 percent of their waste," Conlin said in an Aug. 15 blog post.

Conlin said multi-family residences are trailing behind, posting a slightly better than 32-percent recycling rate. He expects that number to increase though as more and more residents get use to the food-waste collection system.

Another area in the city which Conlin would like to see improvement is in the amount of materials dropped off at the transfer stations. Last year, the self-haul recycling rate only amounted to 12.5 percent. The hope is that number will increase once the South Transfer Station operates at full speed, which is expected to happen later this year, and when the new North Transfer Station opens in 2016.

In total, nearly 316,000 tons of waste was sent to the landfill in 2012, down from 319,341 tons the year before.

"When we started this, we were seeing a train a mile long every day to the landfill, and now we have cut that to about two-thirds of a mile," Conlin said. "That's pretty huge, but we still have a long way to go."

The city adopted its Zero Waste Strategy six years ago. The goal is to reach a 60-percent recycling rate by 2015 and continue to reduce waste sent to the landfill by at least 1 percent each year.