2021 Trash to Art Winners Announced

RethinkWaste is excited to announce the winners of its ninth annual “Trash to Art” Contest, which was open to all 3rd through 5th grade students in the RethinkWaste service area. The contest challenged students to build a piece of art from normally discarded materials collected at home, school, and around the community.

The student artists submitted original creations, ranging from intricate collages and detailed models to fully functional games and tools! We received over 80 entries, making it very difficult to narrow down to just three winners, and so we have three Honorable Mention winners as well. All winners were recognized by RethinkWaste Staff and the Board of Directors at a virtual Trash to Art Recognition event on Saturday, April 17th.

The winners and their respective cities and schools are listed below:

First Place
Cooper D, 5th grade, Hoover Elementary, Burlingame for “King and Queen of Trash”

Second Place
Amen Y., 4th grade, LEAD Elementary, San Mateo for “Paper Pinch Pot”

Third Place
Cassidy L., 5th grade, Nueva School, Hillsborough for “Geometric Bee”

Honorable Mention
Taisei M., 5th grade, Roosevelt Elementary, Burlingame for “Re-think Bottles”

Honorable Mention
Ella C., 5th grade, Roosevelt Elementary, Burlingame for “Eco House”

Honorable Mention
Justin T., 3rd grade, White Oaks Elementary, San Carlos for “Virus Slayer Helmet”

In addition to being acknowledged during the Trash to Art Recognition video call, the winning students will receive special recognition at upcoming City Council meetings in their respective cities.

Finally, as a reward for their creative efforts, 1st to 3rd place contest winners will receive a gift card to a fun destination of their choice. 

Hazardous Waste 101 Webinar Follow-Up

RethinkWaste held a Hazardous Waste 101 Webinar on February 18, 2021 (National Battery Day). This page provides the webinar recording, presentation slides, links to more resources, and all of the questions (with answers) submitted by attendees. If you have additional questions, fill out the form at the bottom of the page.


Powerpoint Presentation

Household Hazardous Waste

Safe Home Cleaning

Webinar recording and live Q&A

Questions and Answers

1. What do I do with pressure treated wood?

Pressure treated wood is now classified as hazardous waste. To dispose of it, residents can bring it to the San Mateo County HHW facility for proper disposal. Set up on this acceptance should be happening soon. Check for updates on treated wood waste disposal on the County website.

2. How do I get battery collection in my apartment complex?

If you don’t see one at your location, ask your property manager or owner to get a bucket for your building(s) from Recology for free. Please note that only property managers/owners can request a bucket and coordinate pickups.

3. What is the history of National Battery Day?

We’re unsure of the exact origins of National Battery Day, but for us at RethinkWaste, the day is meant for raising awareness around battery hazards, risks, and proper disposal.

4. What happens to all the stuff that is recycled at the County HHW facility?

Depending on the item, some are recycled or reused and some are burned as fuel. Very little goes to the landfill.

5. How do I dispose of batteries that are in electric toothbrushes, smoke detectors, etc?

If you can’t remove the battery from the electric toothbrush, it is called an embedded battery which needs to be brought to the County HHW facility. Smoke detectors can sometimes be sent back to the manufacturer if they have a takeback program, or you can bring them to the Shoreway Public Recycling Center.

6. How to dispose of scrap lumber, not pressure treated, from household? 2×4 scraps, etc?

Scrap lumber can be brought to the Shoreway Environmental Center and will be classified as construction and demolition debris. There may be a fee associated with drop off. For pricing information, click here.

7. Are rechargeable battery packs (such as ones used for phones) allowed to be disposed of curbside with other batteries?

Yes, you can place these batteries in a bag with other batteries and place on top of your black garbage cart on collection day. Double check if you need to tape these batteries if they are lithium-ion.

8. Where can we recycle portable tools that have a rechargeable battery?

These can also be brought to the Shoreway Public Recycling Center, hardware stores like Home Depot, or if you live in a single-family household, you can put them in a zip-top bag and place on top of your garbage cart for your regular collection day. If you live in an apartment or condo with an orange battery bucket, you can place these batteries in there as well.

9. How do I dispose of empty red plastic gas containers?

If this container has a chasing arrows symbol with a number #1-7, it can go into the recycling. If no chasing arrow, it should go in the garbage.



10. Do you have to use specifically distilled white vinegar for mold? Can you use other types of vinegar?

Other vinegars like apple cider vinegar have a stronger scent, so we haven’t tried cleaning with it. But distilled white vinegar usually comes in larger sizes, is cheaper, and works well in cleaning.

11. How do you wash windows?

Diluted vinegar with water, and a microfiber cloth will clean up grime and fingerprints on the inside and outside of windows.

12. Why use microfiber cloths?

Microfiber cloths catch dirt and dust, and dry quickly. Remember to hang dry microfiber cloths after washing and avoid putting them in the dryer.

If you have more questions, fill out the form below!

Contact Form

Attention Atherton Residents: New Service Information

On September 16, 2020, the Town of Atherton’s Council voted in favor of exiting the South Bayside Waste Management Authority Joint Powers Authority (JPA) and to finalize contract negotiations with GreenWaste Recovery for recycling, compost, and solid waste services. 

This means that the current contract the Town of Atherton has with Recology San Mateo County for waste collection services will expire on December 31, 2020.  

Please review the GreenWaste Atherton webpage for more information about the transition and information about new services, rates, and more. General questions and answers for residents can be found below.

The Town of Atherton has been a longtime valued member of the South Bayside Waste Management Authority (SBWMA/RethinkWaste) and we respect their decision.

Atherton customers can direct all inquiries regarding new services and rates that will begin January 1, 2021 to GreenWaste Recovery at (650) 798-5999 or by visiting the GreenWaste Atherton webpage.

This section highlights general questions and answers for Atherton residents to refer to.

1. Why will Recology no longer be my waste hauler?

The Town of Atherton decided at its September Town Council to exit the Joint Powers Authority. All information regarding the exit can be found here.

2. When will I no longer have Recology as my waste hauler?

Effective January 1, 2021, your new waste hauler will be GreenWaste.

3. What will happen to my carts?

Your Recology carts will be removed at the same time your new carts are delivered on your service day. According to Recology and GreenWaste, the cart replacement process will begin on January 18, 2021 and will occur during a 3-4 week period. Set all carts in their service location by 6:30am on your service day, even if they are empty. GreenWaste and Recology are using the same cart removal/delivery subcontractor to minimize the opportunity for disruption. You will receive the same size and number of carts you currently have based on the information in Recology’s database. More information on Recology‘s and GreenWaste‘s websites

4. Will my carts get serviced if my regular collection day falls on Christmas and New Year’s Day?

There are no collection services on Christmas Day. Friday customers, whose Recycling, Compost, and Garbage service falls on Christmas Day, will be serviced on Saturday, December 26, 2020 by Recology San Mateo County. Please have carts out by 6:00 a.m. for regular collection services.

There is also no collection services on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2021. If your service day is on this day, your service collection day will be on Saturday, January 2, 2021 by GreenWaste.

5. What do I do with my holiday tree?

Holiday tree collection services will occur through GreenWaste since Recology’s new holiday tree schedule is now January 2 – 31.

Households wanting to dispose of their holiday trees (non-flocked trees) before January 1 should place holiday trees inside their green compost cart. If the tree is larger than 8 feet, please cut trees in half and place inside green compost carts. Please remove all decorations and tree stands.

6. How will the waste hauler changing affect my costs?

All information about new services and costs with GreenWaste can be found on their website at: https://www.greenwaste.com/service_area/atherton/

7. Can I still drop off at the Shoreway Transfer Station and Public Recycling Center?

Yes, the Shoreway Transfer Station and Public Recycling Center are open to all members of the public.

RethinkWaste Announces 2020 Poster Contest Winners

RethinkWaste is very excited to announce the winners of its seventh annual poster contest, which was open to all 3rd through 5th graders attending schools in the RethinkWaste service area.  This year’s poster theme was “Rethinking Waste on the Move.”  The artwork from local student artists illustrated the creative ways students are practicing the 4R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot) while spending time in outdoor spaces.

The winners and their respective cities and schools are listed below:

First Place
Ella K., 5th Grade, Hoover Elementary School, Burlingame for “Taking the 4R’s Everywhere I Go!”

Second Place
Nikita G., 3rd Grade, Brewer Island Elementary, Foster City for “My Family Picnic!

Third Place
Lucie B., 4th Grade, Nesbit Elementary, Belmont for “We Can Help the World”

Honorable Mention
Ellie K., 4th Grade, The Carey School, San Mateo for “Costumes Reused”

The First Place poster will be featured on the side of a Recology collection truck with routes in Burlingame, so the winner will see their artwork around their neighborhood this spring!  In addition, contest winners will be recognized at upcoming City Council meetings.

Full Press Release.

‘Tis the Season for Gifting and Receiving

The holiday season will soon be upon us! Here are tips for gifting and receiving gifts that are a little easier on the Earth.

If Gifting:

  1. Try a new experience. Giving the gift of an experience is an easy way to reduce waste while still being fun and thoughtful. This could be something like tickets to a botanical garden, museum, or outdoor activity!
  2. Get crafty. Making gifts can lead to meaningful keepsakes that come with a lighter ecological footprint. Make a quilt or bag from fabric, yarn or old clothes, make some candles, or construct a memory book of cherished photos.
  3. Give the gift of knowledge. There is nothing like curling up with a blanket with your favorite…e-book! E-books allow you to read something new without any of the paper. When they’re done, they can easily download the book to share with others. Alternatively, you can gift them credit for a fun virtual class!
  4. Donate to a cause they care about. Donations to organizations can make a positive impact while making little to no waste!
  5. Fill their tummies with their favorite foods. Does your loved one have a favorite local restaurant? A gift card or warm meal from there is an easy way to make them smile while supporting a local business. Just remember to ask for no disposable utensils!
  6. Shop local. There are plenty of great small businesses in the RethinkWaste service area. Shopping locally and in-person (if possible) supports the local economy while reducing waste and emissions from shipping.
  7. Repurpose wrapping. Paper grocery bags or old newspapers make great wrapping paper. Tie it together with some twine and pine needles from outside for a rustic feel. Or reuse last year’s wrapping paper and gift bags or try using scrap sewing material or a colorful scarf.
  8. Power up. Many electronics, toys, and gadgets require batteries. If batteries are not included, consider rechargeable batteries. They help reduce waste and can save you money, too.
  9. Disposal directions. When giving gifts, providing directions for disposal can help ensure that the receiver knows how to properly sort any waste that comes from it. This is especially important for gifts that contain batteries, as batteries are very dangerous when put in the wrong bin!

If Receiving:

  1. Make a list. If you plan on exchanging gifts with loved ones this year, make a list of items you may want or need. Giving your gifter ideas may spoil some of the surprise, but it does allow you to receive something you want instead of something that may go to waste. Also, it’s OK to say no to friends and family if you don’t really want a gift, or consider one of the ideas above if you’re trying to avoid too much consumerism.
  2. Sort it out. Make sure you sort your gift wrapping and packaging into the correct cart or bin—or better yet—save materials to reuse next year! If you’re not sure where it goes, check out WhatBin.com.
  3. Energize. As you start receiving and using new gadgets, make sure to properly dispose of your spent household batteries. Learn how to do this on our battery page.
  4. Donate. To make room for your new gifts at home, consider donating items in good condition that you no longer need instead of trashing them. Check out San Mateo County’s Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Guide to learn more.

Holiday celebrations may look a little different this year, but there are still plenty of ways to show your love to friends, family, and the planet! How are you reducing waste this holiday season? Tag us on social media – #RethinkHolidays on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Do-It-Yourself Face Mask with Scrap Fabric

Wearing a mask when leaving your house has become the norm now. While disposable masks are convenient, they are a single-use item and can often be found littered on the streets, meaning they can travel through waterways and storm drains and eventually make their way into the Bay and ocean. Many brands have come out with stylish masks, but making your own is an easy way to use up fabric scraps that you may already have at home, while preventing unnecessary emissions from shipping a new mask.

DIY masks are most effective when made from a tightly woven material. Examples of this are bedsheets and t-shirts with minimal stretch. Other components of the mask, such as the nose-bridge piece, can be made from craft pipe cleaners, twist ties, or other flexible materials. The mask can be made with either ear loops, which are typically elastic, but can be made with other stretch materials, or a long string.

If you are using a reusable mask, it is imperative that it is washed after use with warm water and sent through the dryer OR put out in the sun to dry.

The DIY method below is being shared by a friend of RethinkWaste, Gail Oshima, and written by Dr. Katie Fry and Emily Knapp, RN.

You will need…

  • A sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Fabric for the mask
  • Pipe cleaner
  • Iron (optional)


  • Right side: The side that you would like to show when the project is finished
  • Seam allowance: How far away the stitches are from the edge of the fabric


Step 1. Cut fabric into a 7.5” x 15” rectangle (see “You will need” section above).

The print should be in the direction that you want going the 15” way. If you have a thin fabric that you like, consider doubling up by using a sheet or other tightly-woven fabric.

Stack the rectangles on top of each other.

Step 2. Fold in half width-wise (hamburger style) with right sides together.

Step 3. To make a 3 in. filter opening, mark 2.25 in. from both right and left raw edges. Sew from the edge to the 2.25 in. mark.

Step 4. Flip right side out.

Step 5a. Fold and pin down the raw edges of the filter opening.

Step 5b. Sew them down

Step 6. Adjust the mask so the filter opening is where you would like it.

Step 7a. Measure your pipe cleaner (or other bendy material) for width and length. From the top of the mask, mark a line that is the length of the pipe cleaner and 1/8 of an inch wider than it.

Step 7b. Sew 2 out of 3 sides, insert the pipe cleaner, and sew the 3rd side closed.

Step 8. Make your mask pleats. There should be a total of 4. Pin them in place. If you are using an iron, use it to press the pleats down.

Step 9. Sew the pleats down with a ¼ in. seam allowance form each side. This is around the edge of the foot. Be sure to catch all folds.

Step 10. Measure the width of your mask (most likely around 3 inches wide). Cut 2 rectangles of fabric that are 3 inches wide and ¾ in. longer than the mask width (ex: 3 ¾ in. x 3 in.).

Step 11a. Pin them to the front of the mask with right sides together. 

Step 11b. Sew down at ½ in. seam allowance.

Step 12. Fold this over and outward, then fold the 3 remaining edges in at about ¼ in. Press.

Step 13. Fold this to the inside of the mask, leaving plenty of room for your elastic or other fabric strips to slip through. Pin down and sew at ¼ in. seam allowance.

Step 14. Press again if desired, and thread your chosen attachment method (elastic or fabric strip). Enjoy your homemade mask!

Now you can start making your own face masks! Remember this is a great way to use up things like ripped sheets (you don’t need to buy new fabric), while creating something you’ll need! It also is a creative way to practice one of the 4 R’s – Reduce. There are also so many other simple projects – such as rags, bags, and scrunchies that can utilize old clothes or sheets too!

We would love to see how you practice reducing and creative reuse. Take a picture of your action(s) and tag us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

Join Us for Rethink Recycling Days!

This year, we are celebrating Rethink Recycling Day by hosting two full days of virtual tours and workshops in partnership with local experts from community-focused businesses and organizations.

If you want to see where your waste goes, heal your sick houseplant, keep your food fresher for longer, or fix a broken appliance in your home, join us virtually on Saturday, November 7th and Saturday, November 14th for these no-cost offerings:

  • Virtual Shoreway Tours
  • Houseplant Care & Home Herb Garden How-To – Presented by Lyngso Garden Materials
  • Waste Bingo & Crafts for Kids!
  • Virtual Fixit Clinic
  • Sourdough for Starters – Presented by Zero Waste Chef
  • Food Safety How-To’s: Storing, Identifying Imperfect Produce & Jamming – Presented by Master Food Preservers
  • Mental Health Resiliency & Coping w/ Climate Change – Presented by Resource Innovation Group
  • Get to Know Your Community Partners – Presented in conjunction with Recology San Mateo County, South Bay Recycling, Peninsula Clean Energy, San Mateo County Parks & Office of Sustainability
  • Happy Hour w/ RethinkWaste Executive Director & Poster Contest Winner Recognition

Sign up for the workshops are required and information on how to sign-up and more information about Rethink Recycling Days can be found at: rethinkwaste.org/rrd

2020 RethinkWaste Poster Contest Open

The 7th annual RethinkWaste poster contest is now open!

The theme for the 2020 contest is Rethinking Waste on the Move. Students are encouraged to illustrate which of the 4 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot/Compost) they are practicing while spending time in their yard, neighborhood, local parks, and other outdoor spaces. 

Entry Details
All 3rd through 5th grade students attending schools located in the RethinkWaste service area* are eligible to enter the contest.

Poster submissions must be on 8.5 x 11 inch white paper in landscape orientation. Any 2D mediums may be used, including paint, markers, crayons, and colored pencils. Use of bright, rich colors are recommended. Only one entry per student will be acceptedArtwork must be original – posters that contain copyrighted images will be disqualified.

The deadline for poster entries is Friday, October 30, 2020 at Noon via our online submission form.

The 1st Place poster will be enlarged and displayed on the side of a Recology truck with routes in the winning artist’s local neighborhood. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place winners will receive their choice of a gift card for a fun outing at a selection of local businesses. All winning posters will also be highlighted on the RethinkWaste website and in other promotional materials.

View examples of previous years’ Poster Contest winning submissions here.

*The RethinkWaste service area includes Atherton, Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo, the County of San Mateo and the West Bay Sanitary District.

Join Us For a Virtual Shoreway Facility Tour!

RethinkWaste has launched a brand new, virtual version of our popular Shoreway Facility Tours – no shoes, vests, or masks required! 

Come and learn what happens to our recycling, compost, and garbage after it gets picked up from homes and businesses.

These free virtual tours will give you an inside look at how recyclables are sorted in our recently upgraded Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and how compost and garbage are consolidated at the Transfer Station. RethinkWaste Staff will also provide an overview of how to properly sort your materials, how you can reuse and reduce at home, and answer questions about hard-to-recycle items.

Registration is required and we offer tours for school groups, businesses and organizations, and the general public. School and business tours are available Monday-Friday at 10 a.m. and/or 1 p.m., while public tours are the first and third Thursdays of the month at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

For more specific information on each tour type and to schedule a tour today, click the appropriate link below.

Public Recycling Center Reopens Monday, August 3

RethinkWaste has reopened the Shoreway Public Recycling Center located at 333 Shoreway Road in San Carlos beginning today, Monday, August 3.

The Public Recycling Center (PRC) resumed regular business hours to serve as a free drop off location for residential customers ONLY. Items accepted for drop off at the PRC include: electronic waste, cooking oil, fluorescent lights, batteries, used motor oil and filters, and excess cardboard. A full list of accepted materials can be found at: RethinkWaste.org/PRC

Public Recycling Center regular business hours: Monday – Saturday: 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

A reminder that Shoreway’s Transfer Station continues to be open to accept non-hazardous residential and commercial solid waste materials, landscaping/organic materials, and construction and demolition materials for a fee. Additionally, residents of the RethinkWaste service area can obtain up to two bags of high-quality compost materials for their gardens at no charge at the Transfer Station.

With this opening, RethinkWaste expects a ramp up of visitors (vehicles) and materials coming in. Alongside our facility contractor, South Bay Recycling, we are highly committed to ensuring all site employees and visitors stay safe. 

All site employees and visitors will be required to wear a face covering and observe all mandated physical distancing measures while on site. Any visitors not wearing a face covering will be asked to leave. All public visitors will be subject to a non-contact, temperature screening test in accordance with the local Health Order and any visitors who have excessive temperatures will not be allowed access to the facility. In addition, due to social distancing requirements, site employees will serve to direct visitors where to drop-off their items, but will not be able to assist customers with the placement of those items.

While we are looking forward to the re-opening of our Public Recycling Center, we encourage members of the public that can hold on to their materials for a while longer to do so to allow for those in greatest need to use the facility at this time. We do expect many visitors onsite and do ask for patience and adherence to local health and safety rules. If you need tips or best practices on what to do with your waste, please visit review our latest news and blog postsFacebookTwitter, and Instagram posts for information.