Multi-Family Complex Recycling in Densely-Populated Areas

Picture of Multi-Family Complex

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) and organics recycling (AB 1826 and 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 complex is located. 

This page will detail how multi-family complexes (5+ units) in the densely-populated areas can remain compliant with local and State laws. If your multi-family complex (5+ units) is in the sparsely-populated area please visit this page

Multi-family Complexes with 5 or more units in the densely-populated areas must separate materials on their premises and arrange for recycling of the following materials-

Designated Recyclable Materials:

  • Aluminum
  • Glass Bottles & Jars
  • Cardboard & Paper Products
  • Rigid Plastics (#1-#7)
  • Tin & Bi-Metal Cans
  • Large Appliances

Organic Materials:

  • Yard Trimmings
  • Nonhazardous Wood Waste
  • Food Scraps and Food Soiled Paper


Multi-family properties must:

  • Meet the County’s minimum diversion service level ratio of 35%. This means at least 35% of the weekly container capacity must be available for recyclables and organic materials.
    • The container capacity is measured in cubic yards or space in the carts or dumpsters that customers have for solid waste, recyclable materials, and organic materials. 
  • Have adequate number and size of containers for tenants, employees, and contractors.
    • A minimum of 20 gallons of recycling capacity per unit and 5 gallons of organics capacity per unit would demonstrate adequate capacity.
    • A County Recycling Specialist or your Franchise Hauler can assist you in right sizing your waste service.
  • Provide education to tenants within 14 days of move-in.
  • Annually educate tenants about recycling and organic materials recovery and proper sorting.
  • Accommodate inspections and monitoring by the County or its designee.
  • Keep recyclables separate from trash.
  • Arrange for proper collection, storage, and transport of discarded materials.
  • 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.

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 for information.
  • Maintaining records:
    • Tenant education
    • Landscaping contracts (if applicable)

Non compliance is subject to an Administrative Citation with escalating penalties.

Waivers from Service Requirements

Multi-family (5+ units) 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. 

Free Recycling Assistance

The County of San Diego offers technical assistance and promotional equipment to unincorporated area apartment and condominium complexes at no cost, including trash and recycling enclosure signs, tenant presentations, door-to-door outreach, brochures, door hangers, and recycling containers for tenant units, mail areas and common rooms (as available). Contact a Recycling Specialist at 858-694-2456 or for more information. 

Recycling Programs


Have a recycling question? Email or call: