San Diego

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Recycling Programs



Environmental Services provides tools, resources and services to help with the City of San Diego's waste reduction and recycling efforts. 


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Specific Product Recycling

To learn how to donate, recycle or properly dispose just about anything visit WasteFreeSD.

Zero Waste Plan

The City's Zero Waste Plan was approved and adopted unanimously by City Council on July 13, 2015. The Zero Waste Plan lays out strategies to divert 75 percent of all trash by 2020, 90 percent diversion by 2035 and an ultimate goal of zero waste by 2040.

Zero Waste Plan (Organics)

The City of San Diego's Environmental Services Department educates and assists businesses to comply with the implementation of the State of California Assembly Bill (AB) 1826.

  • More information on AB 1826 can be found at the CalRecycle website.
  • To determine the feasibility of starting a commercial food waste recycling program, please contact the City of San Diego’s Environmental Services Department at 858-694-7000.
  • To learn more about the City’s Commercial Food Waste Recycling Program and other food recovery and donation options, visit the Commercial Food Waste Recycling webpage.
  • Some businesses that generate food waste have considered liquefier devices as a means of complying with AB 1826. However, there are strict requirements governing discharge from liquefiers. To learn more, please review the Public Utilities Department’s Food Waste Liquefier Fact Sheet. PDF icon Information about food waste liquefiers

      Waste Characterization Study

      A waste characterization (or waste composition) study is a scientific tool used by jurisdictions to assess the amount and types of waste being disposed in landfills for the purposes of evaluating and expanding recycling and diversion programs. The Environmental Services Department is responsible for implementing the City's waste reduction, recycling, and diversion programs. The passing of state Assembly Bill (AB) 939 in 1989 required all jurisdictions in California to divert 50 percent of their waste by the year 2000.

      San Diego's last full waste characterization study was conducted in 1999. San Diego reached a 52 percent diversion rate in 2004 and has steadily increased diversion to 68 percent in 2012. This added diversion is predominately due to two City-wide recycling ordinances:

      1. The City Recycling Ordinance (CRO) requires all commercial properties and multi-family residences to recycle unless they fall below a specified service level thereby making them exempt.
      2. The Construction and Demolition (C&D) Debris Deposit Ordinance requires certain permitted demolition, new construction and remodeling projects to divert 65 percent of the waste produced during the project. Additionally, there is a surcharge on all C&D loads disposed at Miramar Landfill.

      The results and links below are from the recently completed 2012-2013 Waste Characterization Study. The study evaluated the types and amounts of waste still being disposed and will be used to enhance and develop recycling program activities and policies.

      The most recent disposal data available is from 2012, and shows that San Diego disposed of nearly 1.3 million tons of waste. This included waste from our homes, business, schools, manufacturing, and military bases.

      Compost Bin Voucher Program

      The City has partnered with Dixieline ProBuild® to offer compost bins at a discounted rate for City of San Diego residents! For more information, visit the Backyard Composting page.                        

           Soil-saver compost bin    composting bin for vermicomposting (worms)   Tumbling compost bin

      Recycling Guides and Popular Publications

      Report Properties without Recycling
      Disclaimer: It is the policy of the ESD's Code Enforcement Section to request the source of the complaint, which will remain confidential. However, a judicial proceeding may order this information to be revealed. Complaints from anonymous sources will not be accepted.
      Report Form
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