Since the 1990s, Tacoma has offered curbside yard waste pick-up every other week to all single-family residents and has achieved a 90% participation rate in the program. In 2012 the city expanded the organics program to include all food waste including meat and dairy products.
The program expansion was prompted by a 2009 waste characterization study that found 1/3 of household trash was food scraps, which prompted the city to run a pilot program for food scraps in 2011. The pilot beat its goal of diverting 10% of food scraps and was successfully rolled out to all residents.
In the first year of the program, 48% of existing customers were composting their food scraps and the city reduced its waste by 5,000 to 6,000 tons.
Tacoma provides a 1-gallon kitchen bucket for collecting food scraps and a 96-gallon brown curbside bin. Compostable materials include:
Bioplastics and compostable packaging are not included in the program.
The city of Tacoma provides the trash, recycling and composting collection services for all its 54,000 single-family and duplex residents. Recycling, trash and composting are all picked up on an every other week schedule. Garbage and recycling are collected on the same day and composting is collected on alternate weeks. The city moved to every other week trash service in 2013.
The city also provides mandatory trash service to all businesses and multi-family properties and offers recycling services as well.
Tacoma operates under a PAYT pricing structure for its residential collection services that bases the price of recycling, trash and composting service on the size of the trash container.