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Environmental Services

Container Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the City now charging for refuse containers?

Beginning in 1994, containers manufactured specifically for automated refuse collection were provided at no cost to residents when the City converted refuse collection from a manual system to an automated process. Containers were provided free to make sure that each resident had a compatible container available when the change took place.

However, prior to 1994 residents purchased their own refuse containers per the San Diego Municipal Code, which states that residents are responsible for placing refuse out for collection in approved containers. The City is returning to this previous policy whereby residents are responsible for providing their own approved refuse containers. The container fee will offset the costs of repairing, replacing and delivering refuse containers designed for automated collection service.

Is the City charging for blue recycling containers?

No, the City does not charge for blue recycling containers. The reason for this is to encourage recycling as much household recyclables as possible. The current delivery fee of $25 per container does continue to apply when residents request delivery of recycling containers. Residents can avoid this delivery fee if they pick up their recycling containers at the City's Collection Services Division, located at 8353 Miramar Place, San Diego, 92121.

How will I know if my damaged container needs to be replaced?

Containers need to be replaced if and when the City determines they are no longer serviceable for automated collection. Usually, the driver places a tag on the container advising the resident to contact the City to schedule delivery of a replacement container. If the driver does not notify the resident but they notice that the container is cracked or damaged in a way that will not allow it to be safely used for collection, residents may request a repair or a new container by emailing or calling 858-694-7000. The City will determine if the container can be repaired or needs to be replaced. In most cases, the container will need to be replaced.

How and when will my container be replaced?

New containers are normally delivered and the damaged containers collected from the resident on the day after the regular collection day.  Residents can avoid the $25 delivery charge by picking up their container at Collection Services, 8353 Miramar Place. There may be a delay of up to six weeks for delivery of new containers. If the current container is not serviceable, manual refuse collection will be provided for 45 days.

Does the $25 delivery charge apply to container replacement, making the total cost $95?

Yes. The $25 delivery charge applies to all refuse containers that residents opt to be delivered by the City, and it is added to the fee for the container. If the full $70 fee is assessed, the total cost including delivery would be $95. If the container is less than ten years old and was damaged by the collection process, the fee is prorated and will be calculated for residents at the time it is ordered. Customers can save the $25 delivery charge by picking up the container from Collection Services, 8353 Miramar Place, San Diego, 92121. Approved containers may also be commercially available at home improvement stores. Visit our webpage for more information.

How can I pay for the container and/or delivery?

Payment for a container and/or delivery must be received prior to scheduling your delivery date and time. For all mail-in or phone requests, only check or money order will be accepted. Never send cash in the mail. Make sure to include a note with your name, type of container (trash, recycling) and the container size you would like (95- or 65-gallon). Please include your email address along with your payment to receive important email messages about delivery dates and payment receipts. Also include the address at which the container will be used (and thus delivered). Payment should be sent to:

City of San Diego
Collection Services
8353 Miramar Place
San Diego, CA 92121

Payment for a container you will pick up may be made at the time of pick up. Obtaining a container in person, from the address listed above, Visa/Master cards, debit card, check or money order will be accepted. Bring the damaged container with you. More information.

What if my container is damaged, lost or stolen?

Residents are responsible for the container's security and maintenance. When damage results from normal use or due to age, the replacement fee will be prorated during the 10-year anticipated lifespan of the container. In other words, a container that breaks due to normal collection after five years will be replaced for 50% of the fee and the resident will receive a new container with ten years of expected use. If the container is lost, stolen or damaged as a result of the resident's misuse, the full fee will be charged for its replacement. More information.

Do I have to pay the fee when I move to a new house?

One container will be provided for no charge to each newly constructed, eligible dwelling unit. All existing dwelling units eligible for City collection have already received a first container at no cost. Upon moving to an existing residence, the container originally delivered must remain at that address. If a container is not present, residents should contact the previous owner through the realtor to retrieve the container. If the container cannot be retrieved, residents are responsible for obtaining a replacement container from the City or from another source.

Did the City consider that some residents may not be able to afford the fee?

Affordability is always a concern for the City when implementing or increasing fees. However, an approved container is required for residents to use the residential waste collection and recycling service which is provided without a fee. The $70 refuse container user fee is just $7 per year for the 10 year life of the container, or 58 cents per month. The City has determined that the $70 fee is a fair and reasonable fee that does not exceed the cost of providing the container and is the best option for the City to offset the rising costs of container repair, replacement, and delivery. Additionally, with the acceptance of Visa and Master cards, residents may spread the cost of the container over time.

If I purchase a new container from a home improvement store, what do I do with my old container?

It is the responsibility of the resident to ensure that the City of San Diego issued containers be properly recycled or returned to the City's Environmental Services Operations Center at 8353 Miramar Place, where they will be properly recycled.