Solid Waste and Recycling

​​​Solid Waste Division

The City created a Solid Waste Division in the Public Works Department in May 2022 to address the recognized need for more focused attention on solid waste management. The Solid Waste Division is dedicated to upholding Bellingham’s natural beauty by addressing environmental safety and health concerns, water quality hazards, right-of-way obstructions, code compliance issues, and more. We achieve this through waste prevention, waste disposal, and resource recovery. We believe in the promotion of solid waste management best practices through education and development of partnerships with the public.

Circle with arrows showing Waste Prevention, Resource Recovery, and Waste Disposal.

Waste Prevention

The Solid Waste Division implements and coordinates programs to reduce the amount of solid waste generated in Bellingham, including:

Residential recycling and garbage services in Bellingham are provided by Sanitary Service Company (SSC) under a contract to the City. Please contact SSC directly with questions about your garbage or recycling service.

Learn how to properly recycle and dispose of waste items with Whatcom County’s WasteWise tool.

The Solid Waste Division partners with Sustainable Connections to provide education about how to reduce single-use plastic waste. Learn about local and state measures aimed at reducing single-use plastics in Bellingham.

To go food containers made from paper

We provide educational materials and programs about litter and illegal dumping:

Waste Disposal

The Solid Waste Division removes waste from property owned and managed by the City, such as City rights-of-way (ROW), Parks property, and City habitat restoration sites. Waste issues on public property can be reported using SeeClickFix. This work allows us to protect our greenways and waterways from contamination, benefitting human and environmental health.

Garbage Collection

Residential recycling and garbage services in Bellingham are provided by Sanitary Service Company (SSC) under a contract to the City. Please contact SSC directly with questions about your garbage or recycling service.

View Bellingham Municipal Code Ch. 9.12 – Garbage Collection to learn more about garbage collection requirements in Bellingham.

Learn how to properly recycle and dispose of waste items with Whatcom County’s WasteWise tool.

Hazardous Waste

SSC does not accept hazardous, toxic, radioactive or dangerous wastes, dead animals or hot ashes. Examples of some types of common household hazardous waste include:

  • paints
  • fluorescent lights
  • old gasoline
  • oil
  • solvents
  • antifreeze
  • asbestos (siding, shingles, floor adhesive, etc.)
  • pesticides/herbicides/other liquid chemicals.

To dispose of these types of wastes, please visit the Disposal of Toxics Program website or call (360) 380-4640. The Disposal of Toxics program accepts a variety of household hazardous waste from Whatcom County residents. Chemical wastes from Whatcom County businesses are also accepted with prior approval.

Please visit our Pollution Prevention for Businesses webpage if you are a business looking for information about reducing pollution and managing waste.

The Purple Bag Program is a two-prong program intended to serve community members interested in establishing neighborhood litter crews, and to improve the efficiency of waste removal from occupied illegal encampments.

Purple bags full of trash sitting next to road.

For neighborhood groups, the City will provide resources to neighborhood leaders interested in establishing litter crews to help keep our City sidewalks and streets free of litter. Once a neighborhood litter crew has been established, the City will coordinate regular municipal waste collection services.

For occupied encampments with established Purple Bag Programs, the City will coordinate waste removal collections to prevent waste-related environmental hazards.

The Solid Waste Division cleans up unauthorized homeless encampments that have been abandoned on public property. Cleanup efforts are intended to help maintain public health and safety. The City offers a number of direct services for people experiencing homelessness, including garbage dumpsters, porta-potties, access to water and showers, and free vouchers for wastewater dumps for people living in recreational vehicles.

Learn more about encampment clean-ups and how to report unauthorized encampments.

Crews digging out shopping carts buried deep in creek.

The City’s subsidy of a seasonal woody debris (“Clean Green”) transfer station has ended. However, there are options for year-round pick-up of yard waste and compost.

Benefits of this program transition are:

  • There are more choices for where and how to compost
  • The City is no longer paying to ship the composted material out of the area
  • The City can provide free yard waste disposal a few, critical times a year

Resource Recovery

In areas where Solid Waste Division staff have removed waste, we make efforts to recover the area by using site stabilization techniques and temporary barriers to prevent further damage to vegetation. We coordinate with the City’s Habitat Restoration program and Parks Department when working on City-owned property.

A group of ducks sitting in Whatcom Creek and on the streambanks.
Ducks enjoying Whatcom Creek at a recently cleaned site.

Report an Issue

There are a variety of ways to report an issue on public property depending on what type of issue you are reporting.

The City does not manage waste on private property. Waste issues on private property are the property owner’s responsibility.

Resources

Contact

For more information, please contact the Bellingham Public Works Department.