Every year, hundreds of thousands of pounds of trash are not getting recycled in Seattle – because not everybody in the city is required to recycle.
Thirty apartment buildings in the city have exemptions – meaning they don't provide recycling dumpsters on their property – because the city has agreed those properties don't have enough space.
"It makes me feel really bad every time I throw a bag in here. It just makes me feel really guilty," said Valerie Turrentine, who lives in an apartment complex on Capitol Hill.
She said she is sick of throwing her recycling into the trash.
When she asked her landlord, she learned about the exemption. She didn't think it was real.
When KIRO 7 contacted Seattle Public Utilities, we found out that 30 of 8,000 apartment complexes have exemptions – or fewer than 1 percent of all apartments.
"We still have some work to do. We have work on the apartment and condominium front," said Sally Hulsman, who is director of solid waste compliance for Seattle Public Utilities.
She said when the city first adopted its recycling ordinance back in 2009, some buildings just didn't have enough space for recycling dumpsters on their properties.
So they qualified for recycling exemptions that exist to this day.
Hulsman said she hasn't approved any exemptions in the year she's been in her position. And, she said, if you're one of the residents who lives in an exempt building – she wants you to contact her office.
Hulsman said she will work with you on a creative, free option to get you recycling – like providing bags that can be set on the curb and be picked up, free of charge, by a city contractor.
The message, she said, is that despite the exemptions – she wants you to be able to recycle.
For Valerie Turrentine, though, it might be too late.
She said she is so upset about throwing recycling in the trash that she plans to move from her current apartment.
"It just kinda gets to the point where you can't take it anymore," said Turrentine.
"It's just a constant reminder that we are not doing our part for the environment."