How To Get There > Composting policies > Alameda County, California, USA

Alameda County, California, USA

Alameda County, California

Action(s) Taken

  • Composting policies
  • Disposal bans
  • Recycling Policies



Overview of Mandatory Recycling

Businesses and apartments are required to recycle and compost in nearly all of Alameda County. The policy was rolled out in two phases, focusing first on recycling and then adding in composting.

Businesses and apartment properties are required to recycle cardboard, newspaper, white paper, mixed recyclable paper, glass containers, metal (aluminum and steel) food and beverage cans, HDPE bottles and PET bottles, as well as to compost discarded food and soiled paper.

Property owners must:

  • Arrange for collection service of recyclables sufficient to accommodate the quantity and type of materials generated on-site.
  • Provide containers for recyclables at the same location where garbage cans or bins are kept. Recycling containers must be large enough to hold all of the recyclables generated onsite.
  • Educate employees and tenants annually and within 14 days of move-in on where recycling containers are located and how to use them.

Properties can choose to use a mixed waste processing facility to comply with this policy instead of source-separating materials. The facility must be a “high diversion” facility and send 10% or less of its volume to the landfill after processing.

Learn More About Mandatory Recycling in Alameda County

Overview of Disposal Ban

Alameda County banned yard trimmings, grass clippings and other plant debris from the landfill to help reach its goal of a 75% recovery rate. Plant debris includes grass, leaves, shrubbery, vines, tree branches and trimmings, but does not apply to palm trees, sod and street sweepings.

The ban applies to significant quantities of yard trimmings, defined as more than 10% of the total trash or five cubic yards, whichever is less.

The focus of the policy is on self-haul loads and large generators. This includes residential and commercial landscapers and gardeners, commercial and residential property managers, municipalities and institutions (e.g. colleges, hospitals), and any commercial customers subscribing to 4 cubic yards or more of weekly solid waste collection service.

This limits the ordinance to only about 25-30% of commercial properties but still reaches an estimated 70-80% of the total volume of trash coming from the commercial sector.

Learn More About the Disposal Ban in Alameda County

Overview of Curbside Composting

Residential curbside food-waste collection is available in nearly all of Alameda County and to nearly 350,000 households. Some cities have been composting food scraps since 2001. The county boasts some of the highest diversion rates in the country with several areas above 70% and even 80% diversion.

Cities with food scrap composting include Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Castro Valley Sanitation District, Dublin, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Newark, Oakland, Piedmont, Pleasanton, San Leandro, San Francisco, Union City, and Oro Loma Sanitary District.

Residential food scraps were the largest percentage of what was being thrown away by residents, making up 35% of the waste sent to landfills. By adding food scrap composting, the County hoped to save landfill space, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create a valuable product and move closer to its goal of having recyclables and compostables make up less than 10 percent of material in the landfill by 2020.

Learn More About Curbside Composting in Alameda County

Back to map

Concise. Actionable. Compelling.

Get the tools, stories and news you need to move your community closer to Zero Waste in our monthly newsletter.

Sign Up