Dumpsters Get Trashed

Downtown alleys are soon to be rid of dumpsters. The city is so mandating as it begins new garbage hauling contracts on March 30th, according to George Sidles, a SPU solid waste and recycling manager.

Last fall, the scrappy, enviro-trash company CleanScapes beat the odds to win city contracts for the central and northeast parts of the city. CleanScapes' Chris Martin lies on the righteous side of a new garbage morality that is trying to clean up the industry. Recycling is a big part of that, but so, in Martin's view, are dumpster-free alleys ("clear alleys" in the new city parlance).

Martin has long argued that they create safer, cleaner spaces. (No junkies or prostitute hiding behind, or in, dumpsters.) CleanScapes started its own dumpster-free collection service some years ago in Pioneer Square. That service, since spread to other neighborhoods, uses garbage bags rather than dumpsters, and that's exactly how the city wants CleanScapes to proceed downtown.

While generally successful, some businesses turned away from the service after seeing birds pluck holes in the bags and trash come spilling out. SPU's Sidles says that CleanScapes will be responsible for cleaning up the area around the bags if that happens. The company will collect bags at least daily and sometimes three times a day.

The policy will impact only those businesses--about 350-- that keep their dumpsters in the alleys, which fall under the city's control, according to Sidles. Other establishments that keep dumpsters on their own property, like many downtown high-rises, will still be able to do so.

The change is one of many that are coming with the new contracts. Sidles calls them "the most significant in the last ten years." A big push on composting will allow meat and dairy foods in with the yard waste, which will be collected weekly rather than twice a month. Glass will no longer be separated out. And the city will collect electronics and even furniture from your curb for a small fee.

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