San Diego

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Recycling Programs

A Division of the City of San Diego Environmental Services Department (ESD)


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Specific Product Recycling

Polystyrene Foam and Single Use Plastics Ordinance

Learn more about the City's NEW Polystyrene Foam and Single Use Plastics Ordinance.

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

      Bring Your Own Bag San Diego - Single-use Carryout Bags

      For information on the State of California bag law, visit the Bring Your Own Bag San Diego web page for more information.

      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

      Having a Special Event?

      Mandatory Recycling Requirements Took Effect July 1, 2012

      Since July 1, 2012, California state law requires apartment and condo complexes with five or more units to recycle.

      In addition, the City Recycling Ordinance also requires recycling at:

      • All single-family homes;
      • All apartments and condominiums services by the City; and
      • All privately serviced businesses, commercial/institutional facilities, apartments and condominiums generating four or more cubic yards of trash per week.

      View the PDF icon New Mandatory Recycling Requirements

      Mattress and Box Spring Recycling

      The California Used Mattress Recovery and Recycling Act aims to reduce illegal dumping, increase recycling, and substantially reduce public agency costs for the end-of-use management of used mattresses and box springs. The legislation established an industry-run, statewide program to increase the recovery and recycling of mattresses and box springs at their end-of-use.

      To find a used mattress recycler, renovator, or drop-off location near you, visit: byebyemattress.com

      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.

      Links and Resources


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