Customer Satisfaction Survey Results
How to recycle food scraps at home
Check out our Food Scraps Recycling Hacks.
What you need to know
- Two pre-selected routes serving approximately 4,800 households currently participate in the pilot program.
- Participants have been notified by mail and received starter 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).
- The cart is serviced on the residents' regular collection day by a split-body truck 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.
How the pilot collection truck works
You take the time to separate food scraps; the truck keeps it that way!
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/coffee filter and tea leaves/bags
What is not accepted?*
- Paper products including plates, cups and containers
- Compostable food ware
- To-go containers
- Soiled pizza boxes
- Paper towels
*These items should be placed in the garbage side of your bin
Technical assistance: contact our staff at Environment@SantaClaraCA.gov or call (408) 615-3080 with any questions or concerns about the pilot program.
Issues with split-carts: Call Mission Trail Waste Systems at (408) 727-5365 to report broken carts.
Recycling guide: See a list of items that go in your blue recycling cart.
Is assistance available from City staff?
Environmental Programs staff is conducting brief in-person outreach assessment appointments to assist with your individual situation and garbage capacity needs. After an outreach appointment staff may authorize changes deemed necessary at no additional charge. To schedule an outreach appointment, please contact Environmental Programs staff by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 615-3080. For more information including videos, visit the pilot program webpage at www.santaclaraca.gov/foodscraps.
Do Santa Clara businesses recycle food scraps?
The State of California mandates separation and collection of organics for businesses in Assembly Bill 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. For more information about the commercial organics recycling program visit our webpage www.SantaClaraCa.gov/organics.
How should I submit feedback about the program?
City staff will be conducting two surveys to gather resident feedback about the program. Surveys include questions to obtain the overall opinion of the new carts, what issues customers are experiencing, what outreach has been most effective and how it can be improved. The second survey will be mailed to pilot households and posted online at Open City Hall in summer of 2018. Additionally, residents with questions or feedback may contact Environmental Programs staff by email at email@example.com or by calling (408) 615-3080.
It looks like the collection truck is mixing garbage and food scraps; what’s going on?
The pilot areas are serviced by a special truck designed to work with split-carts. The carts and collection truck both have dividers to keep collected food scraps and garbage separate. Residents take the time to separate food scraps and the truck keeps it that way. Emptying a regular garbage cart into the truck would mix garbage into the food scraps. A video of the collection process is available on our website www.SantaClaraCA.gov/foodscraps.
My neighbor’s split-cart looks like mine; Are all of the split-carts the same size?
At first glance, it appears that most split carts are the same size. However, there are four split cart sizes: 20-gallon, 32-gallon, 64-gallon and 96-gallon. The difference between the carts can be seen by looking under the lid. The 20-gallon and 32-gallon carts are fit with a “bucket” insert, but the carts look the same from the outside.
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 the pilot program at this time. The City of Santa Clara partners with the University of California Cooperative Exchange Composting Education Program to teach residents how to build compost piles and worm bins, then how to apply the resulting material in their landscapes and gardens. Residents interested in recycling food scraps at home may attend a free workshop by registering online at www.ucanr.edu/compost.
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.
Should 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. 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 how to use the kitchen pail provided, view our video at: https://youtu.be/2mCGCVobYoU.
Why use a split-cart for collecting food scraps?
In addition to collecting food scraps in a split-cart container as being done in our pilot, there are other program options to meet the SB 1383 requirements. Other program options include: placing food scraps and food-soiled paper in yard waste containers; having a separate container for organics; and mixed waste processing of all garbage to remove organics with no source separation. All of the options have advantages and disadvantages. In comparison to a program that uses an additional container, or adds food scraps to yard waste containers, the split-cart collection method requires the same amount of effort to separate food scraps. However, the split-cart program is the most cost-effective option, because it doesn’t require an additional collection vehicle, or additional container which increases program costs.
What if I have extra garbage that won’t fit in my cart?
Are you sure it is all garbage? One way to reduce garbage and associated costs is to maximize recycling (see the next page for Santa Clara’s residential recycling guide). Residents with an occasional extra bag of garbage may purchase an Extra Garbage Bag Tag at the Utilities counter located in City Hall. For weekly garbage capacity issues, please call Environmental Programs staff for assistance at (408) 615-3080.
Why can’t I put food scraps in my yard trimmings (Clean Green) container?
Separate collection of yard trimmings and food scraps preserves the highest and best use for each material. Santa Clara’s yard trimmings (Clean Green) are used to produce high-grade compost at a processing rate that does not include food scraps. Mixing food scraps and yard trimmings degrades the value of both material types.Instead of composting food scraps, 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 ingredient. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Hierarchy, the SAFE method is a more efficient and a better use of the embedded resources in food scraps.
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; should I still participate?
Most home composting processes do not include meat, bones or dairy products. The pilot food scraps recycling program pairs well with home composting efforts, because it accepts all food scraps including meat, bones, and dairy products. You may also recycle spoiled leftovers, and food from a refrigerator or pantry clean out in the food scraps side of your split-cart.
I don’t generate much food waste; why do I need to participate?
We do not expect or want residents to feel that they need to fill the food scraps side of the cart entirely for food scraps recycling to be worthwhile. Any amount of food scraps you are able to collect makes a difference. Most households generate food scraps at three peak times: during meal preparation; after meals; and/or during clean-outs of the refrigerator and pantry. Refrigerator clean-outs often produce the most food scraps. Spoiled fruit and vegetables from backyard trees and gardens can all be placed in the food scraps side of the cart. If you do not have any food scraps for the week, please leave the food scraps 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. The SAFE facility currently recycles residential and commercial food scraps from San Jose, Sunnyvale, Milpitas and Santa Clara. 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.” This mash is screened through a bio-press, sterilized, separated from fats and oils, and dehydrated. 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. To learn more about the SAFE process visit www.ForkToFeed.com.
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: www.forktofeed.com.
How were the pilot routes selected?
The pilot area was designed to give a representative picture of the diversity in Santa Clara. Two garbage collection routes serving approximately one quarter of the single-family and small apartment complex homes (over 4,800 households) were selected. The large pilot area provides the opportunity for assessment and to determine whether or not this program can be improved and implemented citywide.
Why is Santa Clara implementing a pilot food scraps recycling program?
The goal of this program is to reduce the amount of materials sent to our landfill to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Landfills are the second largest source of methane generation in California. Specifically, food scraps produce methane gas as they decompose in landfills. In Santa Clara, food scraps make up about 18% of household garbage collected. California State Senate Bill 1383 requires municipalities to implement programs to reduce the amount of organics disposed of in landfills 50% by 2020 and 75% by 2025.