Beginning in May, the city of Spokane will reduce recycling collection to an every-other-week schedule.
Utility customers can check an interactive map on the city’s website to see whether they are on the “week A” or “week B” schedule. The city also mailed notices directly to customers that indicate during which week their recycling will be collected .
The day of the week that garbage and recycling is collected does not change, only the frequency of recycling collection.
The move was approved by the Spokane City Council last year to help offset rising recycling costs, a trend seen across the country as the market for recyclables dropped substantially in recent years.
The case for change was clear.
When city officials introduced the proposal in 2020, the city was on pace to lose $1.4 million on its recycling program in 2020. Ultimately, the recycling program ended the year $1.3 million in the red.
Those losses weren’t a one-time blip. The recycling program has not broken even since 2013, according to city data.
By reducing its pickup to a biweekly schedule, the city reduced equipment and labor costs. Seven positions will be cut from the city budget, but there will not be layoffs and the reductions will be made through attrition.
The alternative to an every-other-week schedule, officials warned the City Council last year, could be increased fees for city residents.
Other communities in Washington, including many locally, already use every-other-week recycling collection.
For customers whose current recycling carts won’t handle two weeks worth of recyclables, the city is offering a larger 96-gallon cart free of charge. The city has budgeted $1.5 million to buy larger carts and has already procured 12,000 of them, although officials anticipate that many homes will have adequate capacity in the standard cart.
Everyone south of the Spokane River will be on the A schedule, while those on the north side of the river are split between the A and the B schedule.
The new schedule begins May 3 and the city has created an address lookup tool for customers who are still uncertain which weeks their recycling will be collected at my.spokanecity.org/solidwaste/recycling/map.
A full list of recyclable materials is on the city’s website.
Spoiler alert: Plastic bags aren’t on it.
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