What you need to know
Two pre-selected routes serving approximately 4,800 households will participate in the pilot program.
Participants have been notified by mail and will receive a helpful kit with educational materials, including:
A new split-cart with two compartments (one designated for food scraps and the other for garbage);
A kitchen pail to collect food scraps;
A starter supply of plastic liners for the kitchen pail. (Note: Any type of clear plastic bag (i.e. bread bag or produce bag) is also acceptable for use after starter supply runs out).
Pilot households will receive new split carts and kitchen pails the week of October 9th.
The cart will be serviced on the residents' regular collection day by a specialized vehicle fit with a split-body to keep garbage and food scraps separate.
Rates will remain the same as the standard rates for pilot participants
The pilot collection system will be evaluated for convenience and amount of organic material that is diverted from our landfills.
Why this is happening?
Organic waste accounts for 35% of the materials thrown away in California, and food waste alone accounts for approximately 18%. When disposed of in a landfill food waste produces a powerful greenhouse gas called methane. The State of California has set goals to reduce the generation of greenhouse gases by requiring cities to divert organic waste that goes into landfills. In an effort to meet these statewide waste diversion requirements, the City of Santa Clara will be launching a pilot residential food scrap recycling collection program this fall.
What food scraps are accepted?
Meats and bones
Beans and nuts
Fruits and vegetables
Bread, pasta, and rice
Eggs, cheese, and other dairy products
Coffee grounds and tea leaves
What is not accepted?
Paper products including plates, cups and containers
Compostable food ware
Soiled pizza boxes
(These items should be placed in the garbage side of your bin)
Make sure to recycle all aluminum, plastic, glass and cardboard in your blue Recycling bin, yard trimmings in your Clean Green bin, and dispose of household hazardous waste responsibly through
Forming a new habit - like separating food scraps from your garbage - takes time and patience, and we are committed to assist you along the way. Please contact our Environmental Programs staff at
Environment@SantaClaraCA.gov or call (408) 615-3080 with any questions or concerns.
There are two sides to the pilot collection truck
You take the time to separate food scraps; the truck keeps it that way!
Can I opt out?
No. Pilot areas will be serviced by a special truck designed to work with split carts. The split carts and collection truck both have dividers to keep collected food scraps and garbage separate. Emptying a regular garbage cart into the collection truck would contaminate the food scraps. Participation in the pilot residential food scraps recycling program will allow City staff to develop a food scraps recycling program best suited to the needs of our community.
Residents experiencing challenges are encouraged to contact Environmental Programs for assistance. Environmental Programs staff is committed to listening to residents and providing technical assistance through this transition.
Can I sign up to participate in this pilot program?
There is no opt-in option for this pilot. We encourage residents interested in recycling food scraps to compost at home with a backyard pile or composting worms. If you would like more information about these options, attend a free
Santa Clara County Composting Workshop.
Will my rates change as a result of this pilot program?
There is no cost associated with participating in the pilot program; rates will remain the same for participants as residents not participating in the pilot.
Can I use a bag to line the kitchen pail?
Please place food scraps in a bag prior to placing them in the food scrap side of the cart. Households in the pilot will receive a kitchen collection pail and a sample supply of bags to use as a liner for the pail. Purchase of additional bags is not required. In fact, repurposed plastic bags are recommended. Any type of clear plastic bag (i.e. bread bag or produce bag) is acceptable to contain food scraps and can be placed in the food scraps side of the split cart. To keep your cart neat and tidy, be sure to tie-off bags before placing them in the food scraps side of the cart. The plastic will get screened out during the pre-processing of the food scraps. To see an example of household food scraps collection, with the tools provided, view our video at:
Why a split cart and not a separate container for food scraps?
Using a split cart with a split truck allows the City to add food scraps service without the added cost of increasing the number of carts and collection vehicles in use. In addition, increasing the number of collection vehicles on the road increases street maintenance and associated costs.
What if I have extra garbage that won’t fit in my cart?
Residents with an extra bag of garbage, on occasion, may purchase an Extra Garbage Bag Tag at the Utilities counter located in City Hall. For long-term capacity issues, please call Environmental Programs staff for assistance at (408) 615-3080. Staff will work with you on an individual basis to determine the best strategies and accommodations for your household’s needs.
Why can’t I put food in with yard trimmings?
Separate collection of yard trimmings and food scraps preserves the highest and best use for each material. Santa Clara’s yard trimmings are used to produce high-grade compost suitable for agricultural applications. Mixing food scraps and yard trimmings degrades the value of both material types.
This pilot program will be transporting food scraps collected to the Sustainable Animal Feed Enterprises (SAFE) facility in Santa Clara to be processed into animal feed additive. According to the
EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy, the SAFE method is among the most efficient at diverting food waste.
Do I need to use compostable bags to line the kitchen pail?
No; you can reuse produce, bread or other plastic bags as long as they are clear or even wrap the food scraps in newspaper and place them into the cart. The plastic and paper will get screened out during the pre-processing or the food scraps, so they will not have an impact on the final product.
I compost in my back yard already, why do I need to participate?
Most home composting processes do not include meat, bones or dairy products. The pilot food scraps recycling program accepts all food scraps. This includes meat, bones, cheese, and other dairy. You may also recycle spoiled leftovers, and food from a refrigerator or pantry clean-out.
I don’t generate much food waste, why do I need to participate?
Not everyone generates food scraps every day, or every week. Many life factors contribute to varying amounts of food scraps. Household size, grocery shopping, dining out, dietary restrictions, holiday meals and parties can all affect the amount of food scraps generated. Most households generate food scraps at three peak times: during meal preparation; after meals; and/or during clean-outs of the fridge and pantry. Additionally, spoiled fruit and vegetables from back yard trees and gardens can all be placed in the food scraps side of the cart. If you have no food scraps for the week, simply leave the food side of the cart empty.
How does the Sustainable Animal Feed Enterprises (SAFE) process work?
After collection, the food scraps are transported to Sustainable Animal Feed Enterprises (SAFE) facility in Santa Clara for processing. Food scraps are heavy in moisture, making them costly to transport; so minimal transportation is ideal. The collected food scraps are pre-processed through special equipment that removes plastic bags before grinding and shredding the material into small pieces to form a “mash.” The mash is then pressed through small holes which screen out remaining plastic and other contaminants. This mash is sterilized, separated from fats and oils, and dehydrated. The SAFE facility currently recycles residential and commercial food scraps from San Jose, Sunnyvale, Milpitas and Santa Clara. To learn more about the SAFE process visit:
Is the final product safe for the animals consuming it?
Yes, the collected food scraps material is sterilized in an industrial facility. Each batch of product is meticulously tested to verify that it meets USDA requirements. The end result is a product that meets USDA feed requirements for non-ruminant animals including pigs, chicken and fish. For more information on the SAFE process visit:
How were the pilot routes selected?
Two pre-selected routes serving approximately 4,800 households will participate in the pilot program. Participants have been notified by mail. The pilot route selection was designed to give a representative picture of the diversity in Santa Clara. The pilot routes include a mix of single-family and multi-family residential dwellings spread across the City. The large pilot area provides opportunity for assessment to determine whether or not this program can be implemented citywide.
Why are we implementing this food scraps pilot program?
The primary goal of this program is to reduce the amount of materials sent to our landfill. Food scraps make up about eighteen percent of garbage collected in Santa Clara. Food scraps in landfills produce methane gas as they decompose.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Landfills are the second largest source of methane in California.
Keeping food scraps out of the landfill helps the City of Santa Clara reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve State greenhouse gas reduction goals. State Senate Bill 1383 (SB 1383) requires a 50% reduction of organics in landfill, from 2014 levels, by 2020; and a 75% reduction by 2025. The State also mandates separation and collection of organics for businesses in Assembly Bill 1826 (AB 1826). Santa Clara implemented a Commercial Organics Recycling Program in 2016 which has collected and recycled more than 1,000 tons of food scraps material. The State will begin enforcement of organics recycling regulations in 2021.
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKSAlan Kurotori
Fax: 408-988-0237 OFFICE HOURS
Monday - Friday
1700 Walsh Avenue
Santa Clara, CA 95050