Recycle and compost is now required in Palo Alto.
Approximately 70% of what Palo Alto throws away could be recycled or composted. That means items like glass, plastic, metal, paper, and food scraps end up buried in a landfill instead of being recovered and recycled into new materials or composted.
Approximately 70% of what is thrown away in Palo Alto can be recycled or composted. That means items like glass, plastic, metal, paper, and food scraps, end up buried in a landfill instead of being recovered and recycled into new materials or composted. That’s a tremendous waste of resources that helps contribute to global climate change.
The Recycling and Composting Ordinance will help us reduce our environmental impacts and reach our Zero Waste goal while complying with state recycling and organics mandates.
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Everyone in Palo Alto, whether resident, worker, shopper, or visitor, is required to place their discards into the appropriate container – recycle, compost, or garbage.
Residents are asked to do their best to sort properly. At this time, residential compliance will be based on an honor system.
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Below are answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.
What are the Ordinance requirements?
Will the City provide internal containers?
If my tenants do not sort properly, am I responsible?
The entity that pays for refuse service is responsible for the material found within the collection containers. The City and GreenWaste will work with property managers and landlords to provide training and appropriate signage to help tenants sort their discards properly.
How can I prevent people from placing items into my collection containers when it is located in a public area?
If you are experiencing problems with other people using your collection containers, they can be equipped with locks to eliminate the ability for anyone other than the key holder to use the collection containers.
What is the threshold of contamination to receive an additional fee?
There is no specific or numeric threshold to determine contamination. Sorting waste perfectly can be challenging. Contamination will be monitored by both GreenWaste truck drivers as part of regular collection and GreenWaste EOCs through random site visits. If the GreenWaste truck driver or EOC identifies obvious contamination, the container would be considered contaminated. Contaminated containers will be addressed in a multi-step procedure, fees and fines may be incurred.
Is someone going to be looking in my garbage?
Regular monitoring of contamination in the solid waste, recycle, and compost containers will be done by the drivers during collection. City staff or GreenWaste staff may may perform periodic checks to determine if the customers are in compliance with the ordinance.
How do I keep internal compost containers in my lunchroom, kitchen, cafeteria, etc. clean?
Compostable plastic bags provide the best defense against compostable materials from becoming an odor or bug issue. Be sure to empty internal compost containers at least every two to three days. Rinse your internal compost containers periodically as needed.
How do I minimize the risk of getting rats/bugs in my outdoor compost collection containers?
The material in the compost containers has always been a component of your waste. If you did not have issues with vectors when you put compostable materials, e.g., food scraps or paper towels, into the solid waste containers, you should not have issues with moving that same material to a different colored container. It may help to contain compostable materials in a compostable plastic bag. Make sure to keep the lids of the collection containers closed at all times. Should the compost collection containers need to be cleaned, GreenWaste offers a bin wash service for a small fee.