Public Litter & Recycling Cans

Smiling woman dropping an item in a recycling can

The Public Place Litter & Recycling (PPLR) Can program is vital to keep Seattle streets clean and litter-free. By placing litter and recycling receptacles within or near neighborhood business districts, the program aims to reduce litter on the streets. 

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has partnered with Waste Management and Recology to service over 1150 public litter and recycling cans, with service levels ranging from 4 to 14 times a week. Almost all public litter cans are paired with a recycling can in each location, helping to promote recycling and reduce waste. 

Where SPU Places Litter & Recycling Cans

composite image showing four different styles of garbage and recycling cans in use around the city.

To reduce the prevalence of litter on our streets and sidewalks, Seattle Public Utilities places public litter and recycling cans in high pedestrian-traffic areas. These areas tend to be in neighborhood business districts where there are quick serve food/drink or retail business clusters. 
SPU does not place public litter cans in residential neighborhoods. We recommend you explore the Adopt a Street program if you are looking for ways to reduce litter along residential streets.  

If you believe that your neighborhood could gain from the addition of a garbage or recycling can, you have the opportunity to assess your location's eligibility by reviewing our placement criteria for new cans (PDF). If you find that your neighborhood meets the requirements, we encourage you to submit a request by sending an email to In your email, kindly provide comprehensive details about the necessity for cans and specify the precise location where they are needed. Your proactive involvement plays a pivotal role in enhancing your community's waste management efforts. 

Proper Use of Cans

Public litter & recycling cans are meant to reduce the instances of small, street-side litter by providing waste collection services to people actively using the right-of-way as pedestrians (including those using mobility devices), motorists, and cyclists for whom a residential or commercial can is not available. 
Public litter & recycling cans are not meant to be the sole collection source for businesses, households, and multi-family residences, which should have their own residential and commercial solid waste accounts already. Items consistently left next to the cans by businesses and households is an example of illegal dumping defined in Seattle Municipal Code 21.36.420 and may result in an audit and eventual removal of the can from the street. Large items can be scheduled for pick up or taken to Seattle transfer stations
The proper use of the recycling can is to collect mostly clean, dry, and empty recyclables such as paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum. All non-recyclable items such as food-soiled material and cellophane packaging should be put in the litter can. Please refer to the Where Does It Go? Tool if you aren’t sure!

Public Utilities

Andrew Lee, General Manager and CEO
Address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 4900, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34018, Seattle, WA, 98124-5177
Phone: (206) 684-3000

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Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is comprised of three major direct-service providing utilities: the Water Utility, the Drainage and Wastewater Utility, and the Solid Waste Utility.