Business Recycling in Densely-Populated Areas
The Solid Waste Ordinance was updated as of June 4, 2021 for the unincorporated areas of San Diego County. The Solid Waste Ordinance incorporates state laws regarding recycling (AB 341), organics recycling (AB 1826 and SB 1383), engaging customers (AB 827), and food donation (SB 1383).
Recycling requirements differ for the densely- and sparsely-
populated areas of the unincorporated county. Based on census tract
data, densely-populated areas include larger communities such as
Spring Valley, Lakeside, Ramona, Fallbrook, etc., while
sparsely-populated areas include smaller communities such as Campo,
Boulevard, Warner Springs, Ranchita, etc. Click here to
determine which area your business is located.
This page details how businesses in the densely-populated areas can remain compliant with local and State laws, if your business is in the sparsely-populated area please visit this page. Free resources available to all businesses in the unincorporated county are outlined below (as supplies allow).
Commercial Properties in the densely-populated areas must separate materials on their premises and arrange for recycling of the following materials-
Designated Recyclable Materials:
- Glass Bottles & Jars
- Cardboard & Paper Products
- Rigid Plastics (#1-#7)
- Tin & Bi-Metal Cans
- Large Appliances
- Yard Trimmings
- Nonhazardous Wood Waste
- Food Scraps and Food Soiled Paper*
*when service is available in your area
Commercial properties must:
Meet the County’s minimum diversion service level ratio of
35%. This means at least 35% of the weekly container capacity to
be available for recyclables and organic materials.
- The container capacity is measured in cubic yards or space in the carts or dumpsters available for solid waste, recyclable materials, and organic materials.
- A County Recycling Specialist or your Franchise Hauler can assist you in right sizing your waste service.
- Provide containers for employees and customers that are properly
labeled and match the color(s) of their collection containers. All
trash containers for customers must be co-located with recycling
containers (except in restrooms).
- Full-service restaurants are not required to have bins for customers but must have bins for staff.
- Provide education for new
- Train and educate employees annually on proper material sorting.
- Prohibit employees from placing materials in wrong containers.
- Inspect containers for contamination and re-educate employees.
- Accommodate inspections/monitoring by the County or its designee.
- Require in contract that gardeners and/or landscapers recycle green materials and wood waste if total waste generation is greater than or equal to 2 cubic yards per week.
- Comply with surplus edible food recovery requirements if identified as a Tier 1 or Tier 2 commercial edible food generator.
How do I Comply?
Generators may demonstrate compliance by:
- Subscribing to a 3-stream collection service with a non-exclusive franchise hauler, or contract with a Certified Recyclable Materials Collector for certain materials.
- Self-hauling materials. Registration with the County is required. Contact Recycle@sdcounty.ca.gov for information.
- Providing appropriate containers for customers and staff.
- Maintaining records:
- Employee training
- Landscaping contracts (if applicable)
- Edible food donation contracts and records (if applicable)
Noncompliance is subject to an Administrative Citation with escalating penalties.
Waivers from Service Requirements
Commercial properties may apply for waivers from recycling and/or organics service requirements when de minimis generation occurs, if there are physical space constraints, and/or if all organic materials generated are managed on-site. Learn more about waivers here.
Learn more about how your business can implement a successful recycling program with the following tools and resources:
Special Events Recycling
If you are holding a large event (2,000+ attendees per day) in the unincorporated County of San Diego, recycling bins may be provided free of charge, as available. Contact Recycle@sdcounty.ca.gov for information on how to have recycling bins delivered to your event.
Does your business make products from recycled materials?
The Recycling Market Development Zone (RMDZ) program offers low-interest loans, marketing, and permit assistance to businesses that are located in designated areas of the County. RMDZ's are located in North and South San Diego County. Learn more here or call (858) 694-2465.
- The County of San Diego offers FREE assistance and promotional materials to businesses including training, signage, and recycling bins (as available). Please contact a Recycling Specialist at Recycle@sdcounty.ca.gov or 858-694-2456 for details.
- List of Franchised Waste Haulers
- Printable Recycling Signage
- Sample Landscaper Contract Recycling Requirements
- Recycling Guide for Businesses
- Composting Regulations for Businesses
- Signage for Landfill, Recycling, and Compost Bins
- Successful Recycling Case Study: Jimbo's...Naturally Grocers
- The Commercial Climate Calculator is designed for businesses to assess the financial and environmental benefits of reducing waste and recycling discarded materials.
- Learn more about materials that require special handling such as mattresses, paint and carpet.
Have a recycling question? Email Recycle@sdcounty.ca.gov or call: