How to Recycle Organic Waste

Did you know that 40% of what we discard in landfills is organic waste? Senate Bill 1383 was passed into law to change that!  Beginning in 2022, residential, commercial, and multi-family properties were required to start recycling, composting or otherwise diverting their organic waste from landfills. Sound complicated? The process might be simpler than you think!  

Within the unincorporated areas of the County of San Diego, you may now be able to add your food scraps and food-soiled paper to your green, curbside bin along with your yard trimmings and nonhazardous wood waste. Check with your hauler to confirm. Ensuring organic materials like these get recycled has never been easier!

What is organic waste? Keep this in mind: If it grows, it goes!

Organic Waste includes:

  • Fruits, vegetables, meat, bones, dairy, eggshells, breads, coffee grounds, grains and prepared foods
  • Moldy and spoiled foods are OK
  • Napkins, paper towels (not if used with cleaning agent), paper tea bags, paper plates, coffee filters, paper take-out containers, and greasy pizza boxes 
  • NO waxed paper, coffee cups, or to-go containers with a plastic liner
  • Leaves, grass clippings, tree roots, flowers, branches, lumber, unpainted and untreated wood
  • Palm, yucca, and succulents are OK (please confirm with your hauler if unsure)
  • NO dirt, rocks, concrete, or sod

DO NOT place these in the organic waste bin:

  • Plastic bags (DO NOT collect organic waste in plastic, compostable plastic, or biodegradable plastic bags)
  • Dirt, soil, rocks, and concrete
  • Pet waste and kitty litter
  • Diapers
  • Clothing
  • Liquids
  • Glass, metal, and plastics


Now that you know what organic waste is, let's talk about how to collect it.

5 Steps to Organics Recycling

  1. Choose a container with a closeable lid
  2. Know what to throw
  3. Collect your scraps and food-soiled paper
    1. "Wrap your scraps" in paper (DO NOT place them in plastic or compostable plastic bags)
  4. Store your bin in a convenient location 
    1. Under the sink, on the counter, or in the refrigerator or freezer
    2. Add a bit of baking soda to your bin to help soak up extra moisture and combat any odors
  5. Transport your food scraps to the curbside organics bin
    1. Adding food scraps to your organics bin the night before collection is preferable
    2. Use shredded paper to help absorb any moisture in the cart



Reducing food waste: Why it matters, Who it helps, and How to do it
Recycling Home Page


Have a recycling question? Email or Call the Recycling Hotline: