For important information about Organic Waste Recycling start dates and green bin information/presentations:  Read more in “Homes Serviced by the City”

60°

San Diego
Weather

Accessibility Tools

  • Check if your spelling is correct, or try removing filters.
  • Remove quotes around phrases to match each word individually: "blue drop" will match less than blue drop.
  • You can require or exclude terms using + and -: big +blue drop will require a match on blue while big blue -drop will exclude results that contain drop.

Organic Waste Recycling Frequently Asked Questions

General Organic Waste Recycling Questions

What is Senate Bill 1383?

California Senate Bill 1383 (SB 1383) requires all residents and businesses to reduce organic waste (food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard trimmings) sent to the landfill. When organic waste decomposes in a landfill, it releases methane, a harmful gas that traps the sun’s heat and contributes to climate change. Recycling organic waste will result in compost or clean energy and will help reduce the impacts of climate change.

Designated businesses that generate large amounts of surplus edible food will be required to have an edible food donation program. The City sent a notification mailer to businesses that were identified as Tier One Commercial Edible Food Generators under SB 1383 criteria and need to have an edible food recovery program.

What is “organic waste?”

A helpful reminder is: if it grows, it goes in the green organic waste recycling bin! If the waste item grew out of the ground or off a tree then it is capable of decaying and should be added to your organic waste recycling bin. Acceptable items include fruit and vegetable peels; coffee grounds and filters; plate scrapings including rice, beans, cooked food; food-soiled paper napkins, plant clippings, other yard trimmings; and untreated wood waste.

What will I be able to put in the organic waste recycling bin?

Residents and businesses can place food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard trimmings in their organic waste recycling bin.

Will I be able to put dairy items in the organic waste bin?

Yes, dairy products may go in the green bin.

To keep your green bin clean try:

  • Wrapping your food scraps in paper napkins, paper towels, newspaper or a paper bag.
  • Placing food in the freezer or refrigerator and taking it to the organic waste bin before scheduled pickup. Frozen food scraps slow down the decomposition process and can help prevent odors and pests.
  • Keeping your green bin lids closed and out of direct sunlight, if possible.

When is organic waste recycling collection starting?

Collection services for households serviced by the City of San Diego’s Environmental Services Department will begin in January 2023 and will continue as a phased rollout, with completion expected by mid-2023.

Do I have to pay for the new green bin and kitchen pail?

Households serviced by the City of San Diego’s Environmental Services Department will receive the new green bin and kitchen pail at no charge.

Why is the City requiring mandatory organic waste recycling?

The City is complying with a state mandate that includes financial penalties for non-compliance following an extensive educational outreach phase. Organic waste recycling keeps food and yard waste out of the landfill, which helps reduce the amount of methane released into the atmosphere. Reducing what we throw in the trash helps San Diego get closer to the City’s Climate Action and Zero Waste Plan goals of zero waste by the year 2040. Zero waste means diverting as much material and resources from the landfill through reducing, reusing, recycling and composting.

When the bin and pail arrive, each household can make a big difference for the environment by collecting food scraps and food-soiled paper in their kitchen pail and discarding the contents into the green bin, along with yard trimmings and clean wood, and setting the green bin out for collection weekly at their normal trash collection location.

The contents in the organic waste bins will be processed at a facility where it is turned into a nutrient-rich soil additive for farmers and gardeners to grow food and plants. As a result of so much organic material being processed into compost, our soils will benefit greatly!

Will the organic waste bin start to smell or get dirty because of the food scraps collected?

To minimize odors, you can slow down the decomposition process and keep your bin clean with the following tips:

  • Collect your food scraps in a small container and place it in your freezer before emptying it into your outdoor green bin.
  • Drain as much liquid as possible from wet food scraps before adding to the green bin.
  • Wrap food scraps in a paper towel or paper napkins, old newspaper, or paper bag before tossing them in the green bin.

  • Layer yard trimmings then food scraps inside the bin with a layer of yard trimmings at the top to act as a cover.

  • Sprinkle baking soda in your green bin.

  • Keep your green bin in a shaded area with the lid closed at all times.

  • Rinse your green bin with mild soap and water when necessary. Make sure to pour dirty water onto your lawn and not in the storm drain.

How are food scraps and yard waste processed?

At the Miramar Greenery, yard waste and food scraps are processed into compost in a Covered Aerated Static Pile system. The organic waste material is ground up and placed in 100-foot-long piles on top of perforated pipes. The pipes attach to a fan that blows air into the piles. A special fabric cover is placed on each pile and causes condensation that provides moisture. The air and moisture allow for microorganisms to convert the material into compost. During this process, the piles reach temperatures as high as 160℉ that eliminate harmful microorganisms known as pathogens but maintain beneficial soil nutrients.

One of the other processes used to recycle organic waste can even create natural gas, which is trapped and cleaned to power vehicle fleets and generate energy.

Why can’t I use plastic bags in the organic waste bin?

Plastic bags are not accepted in green bins because plastic does not decompose and is considered to be trash, which does not belong in the finished compost product. At the Miramar Greenery facility, compostable and biodegradable bags also do not consistently break down, are difficult to sift out, and result in contamination that decreases the quality of compost. The finished compost should be free of contamination and of good quality for use on soils.

We discourage the use of plastic liners to avoid additional waste. If you use plastic liners, please make sure to empty the contents into the green bin and throw the plastic liner in the trash bin.

Can I toss products labeled as “compostable” or “biodegradable” in the organic waste bin?

No, products labeled “compostable” or “biodegradable” including items such as bags, takeout containers, coffee pods, food packaging, cups, plates and service ware are not accepted in the green bin. Items displaying a green or brown symbol and bioplastics, which are plastics made from organic material rather than fossil fuels (Polylactic PLA and #7 labeled plastics with a chasing arrow are examples of bioplastics) are not accepted in the green bin. As a reminder, please do not recycle PLA or other types of compostable or biodegradable plastics in your recycling bin. All compostable or biodegradable products should be placed in the trash bin.

 

San Diego’s Miramar Greenery composting facility cannot break down these types of compostable products. If these items are placed in the green composting bin, they will cause contamination and diminish the quality of the finished compost.

I do not wish to participate. How do I opt out?

California state law mandates that all residents and businesses reduce organic waste (food scraps and yard trimmings) sent to landfills. It is one of the easiest things we can do to curb climate change.

Resident - City Curbside Customers
(serviced by the Environmental Services Department)

When will the new organic waste recycling collection service start and when am I receiving my new green bin at my home?

Collection services for households serviced by the City of San Diego’s Environmental Services Department will begin in January 2023 and will continue as a phased rollout, with completion expected by mid-2023.

Customers serviced by the City will receive advanced mailed notification before their new organic waste recycling collection begins and a kitchen pail and green bin are delivered to their home.* A new green bin and kitchen pail will be delivered to customers at no charge. When the bin and pail arrive, each household can make a big difference for the environment by collecting food scraps and food-soiled paper in their kitchen pail and discarding the contents into the green bin, along with yard trimmings and clean wood, and setting the green bin out for collection weekly at their normal trash collection location.

Deliveries of bins and pails are scheduled based on the customer’s current trash collection day, starting on Jan. 11 with Wednesday customers receiving their green bins first, followed by Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday customers until everyone has received a bin. To view the rollout schedule, please visit this page and click on “Homes Serviced by the City.” Customers are asked to wait until they receive their green bin and instructions from the City before they begin collecting organic waste. In a city of 1.4 million people, this is a monumental task that we are taking very seriously. City employees are working diligently and carefully to make this an easy transition for everyone.

*A small number of existing customers already have green bins. Those customers will receive a kitchen pail, but not a green bin.

How can I find out if my house is starting in the new food and yard waste collection?

Information about the new organic waste recycling collection will be provided to City of San Diego residences in advance of their program start date. Information will be mailed, and a kitchen pail and green bin will be delivered to the residence if they do not currently have one.

The rollout schedule by day on our website can be found on the New Organic Waste Recycling Program page. Under the “Homes Serviced by the City” tab, you’ll find green bin delivery timelines based on the resident’s current collection day.

Lastly, residences can search their collection schedule on Get It Done. The word “Organics” with the next collection date on the address search result will be displayed to notify a household actively has new organic waste recycling collection service. Once the household’s organic waste recycling collection starts, both the black and green bin will be collected weekly on the same day. The collection day and schedule for the blue bin will remain the same.

I already have a green bin at home. Can I start adding food scraps to my green bin now?

No. If you have a green curbside bin for yard waste recycling at home, please continue to only place yard waste inside. This includes grass, leaves, branches and other plant trimmings. The City will notify your residence with mailers and will deliver a kitchen pail with more information on when you will be able to start adding food scraps and food-soiled paper with your yard trimmings.

What will happen when this new collection starts at my home?

Residents will be asked to place food scraps and food-soiled paper along with their yard waste in their green bin and not in the trash. Your green bin will be picked up weekly. Please place your green bin at your normal collection location by 6 a.m. on the same day as your regularly scheduled, weekly trash collection. The City will also be providing residents a new, free kitchen pail to make it easier for you to collect fruit and vegetable peels, plate scrapings, spoiled food and food-soiled paper, and then empty the contents into your outdoor green bin along with yard trimmings.

Will granny flats/accessory dwelling units (ADUs) receive green bins for organic waste recycling service?

New organic waste recycling green bins will be delivered to all residents with current service, including Accessory Dwelling Units. By default, ADUs will receive a 35-gallon organic greens container. Residents can swap out any unused organic greens container for a different size as long as they request it within 14 calendar days of initial delivery.

What size green bins are offered and how many green bins can I have?

If you have never been issued a City-provided green bin, one will be delivered to your residence free of charge. Depending on your property, you will receive a 95-gallon, 65-gallon, or 35-gallon green bin. Households are only eligible to exchange container sizes and request additional containers after they have started their new organic waste recycling collection service.three sizes of organic waste green bins

How do I request additional green bins?

For additional organic waste/ green bin requests, customers must either be on an automated Greens route or on a new Organics route. Customers who currently do not have an automated greens yard waste recycling service and/or who have not been switched to an Organic Waste Recycling route will not be eligible for an additional organic waste/ green container until organics pick-up has started for your address.

The Request for Additional Containers is a three-step process. Below is a general overview of each step. 

  1. Address Search: Search for your site by entering your address in the Additional Container Form
  2. Choose Containers: Place your order for greens/ organics containers and choose the delivery method to identify if you’d like containers delivered for an additional fee ($25 per container) or self-pickup from Collection Service at 8353 Miramar Place, San Diego. 

 Once these first two steps are complete, your request will go through an eligibility process to determine if your property supports an additional container. You will be contacted by email regarding eligibility status and next steps. 

  1. Purchase: If eligibility is approved, you will receive an email with purchase instructions. 

 For any questions or issues, please call 858-694-7000 or email trash@sandiego.gov

How do I exchange my new organic waste recycling green bin for a different size?

The distribution of new green bins for organic waste recycling will be rolled out by route. If you received a new green bin, customers will have the option to exchange the container for a smaller or larger container size. Available green bin options are a 35-gallon, 65-gallon and 95-gallon.

All bin requests can be made on the Get It Done app at sandiego.gov/get-it-done or by calling 858-694-7000

Requests for an exchange/ swap-out must be submitted within 14 calendar days, and the container must be in new and un-used condition. The Environmental Services Department (ESD) will remove and replace the container on Saturdays for delivery requests.  There will be no additional fees for exchanges requested during the 14-day exchange window. 

Please wait 24 hours to request a green bin exchange online after your new green bin is initially delivered.  In the case of a Friday green bin delivery, please wait until the next business day to request an exchange. 

For exchanges after 14 days, customers must conduct exchanges in-person at the Environmental Services Department’s Collections facility at 8353 Miramar Place, San Diego weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. The organic waste green container must be new and un-used condition.  If you are not able to conduct an exchange in person, please contact ESD at the contact information below. 

For any questions or issues, please call 858-694-7000 or email trash@sandiego.gov.

How can I request an additional kitchen pail?

The Environmental Services Department will not be selling additional or replacement kitchen pails. Customers are encouraged to use other containers of their choice such as a reusable container, paper bag, newspaper wrap or another pail as alternatives to the provided kitchen pail.

Where will the green bin be delivered to?

Green bins will be placed on the street, next to the curb, in front of your residence.

We are delivering thousands of containers every day and in many areas in San Diego, which will result in bins next to parked cars. We hope everyone can understand this one-time inconvenience and help ensure their neighbor gets the right bin. We will not block any ADA or handicapped parking.

How do I know when my green bin will be picked up?

Your green bin will be picked up once a week on your regularly scheduled collection day at your normal collection location. Find your schedule on Get It Done.

Resident - Multifamily Apartments & Condos
(serviced by a private hauler)

When am I getting my organic waste bin?

Apartment and condo property owners that receive trash and recycling collection service from a private waste hauler will be required to order and pay for new organic waste recycling collection service from a private waste hauler. This will include providing a separate organic waste bin for residents in the building to dispose of all food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard waste in addition to the trash and recycling containers. The organic waste bin must be picked up weekly from the property.

Property owners should contact a franchise private hauler for assistance with ordering new organic waste recycling service. You can also email sdrecyclingworks@sandiego.gov to request technical assistance. A Recycling Specialist is available to visit your property to help determine the appropriate bin size and location for your new organic waste recycling bin and provide education resources for your tenants.

I am a resident at an apartment building. My property manager won’t provide us with a bin for food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard waste. What can I do?

Please email sdrecyclingworks@sandiego.gov and a Recycling Specialist will contact your property owner or manager to notify them about the organic waste recycling collection requirement and guide them on how to order a new bin.

What will happen when this starts at my apartment or condo building?

Residents will be asked to place food scraps and food-soiled paper along with any yard waste in the green organic waste recycling bin and not in the trash.

Businesses

When am I getting my organic waste recycling bin?

Business or property owners that have trash and recycling collection service from a private waste hauler will be required to order and pay for new organic waste recycling collection service from a private waste hauler. This will include providing a separate organic waste bin for your business to dispose of all food scraps, food-soiled paper, and yard waste in addition to the trash and recycling containers. The organic waste recycling bin must be picked up weekly from the property.

Please email sdrecyclingworks@sandiego.gov to request technical assistance to get started or contact a private waste hauler to order new organic waste recycling services. A Recycling Specialist is available to visit your business and help determine the appropriate bin size and location for your new organic waste bin and provide educational resources.

Who is going to clean my organic waste bin?

Cleaning services for bins used inside your business are subject to the terms of your collection service contract with your waste hauler or a contract with an independent bin-cleaning service. If your business has an organic waste dumpster, waste haulers are responsible for maintaining these outdoor dumpsters.