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.

RethinkWaste COVID-19 Updates

General RethinkWaste information

  • Where can I find updates about RethinkWaste’s actions on COVID-19?
    • You can find updates on the Latest News section of our website. You can also follow our social media channels for updates!
  • Are Brown Act meetings still occurring?
    • Brown Act meetings (such as Board of Directors, Technical Advisory Committee, Finance Committee meetings, etc.) are still occurring virtually. For more information, visit our meetings page.
  • Is the RethinkWaste administrative office above the library still open?
    • No. The City of San Carlos has directed that the library building remain closed, so all Staff have been working remotely.
  • I have questions for RethinkWaste, how can I best contact you?
    • You may email us at info@rethinkwaste.org or leave a voicemail at our main line (650) 802-3500. Staff will return emails and voicemails within one-two business days.

Shoreway Environmental Center/South Bay Recycling Information

  • Can I still drop items off at the Public Recycling Center in San Carlos?
    • No. The Shoreway Public Recycling Center in San Carlos is temporarily closed. Check Latest News or social media channels for updates.
  • Can I still drop items off at the Transfer Station In San Carlos?
    • Yes. The Shoreway Transfer Station in San Carlos has reopened to the public. Hours are Mon.-Fri. 6 a.m. -6 p.m. and Sat. & Sun. 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. All site employees and visitors are required to use masks and observe all mandated social distancing measures while on site.
  • Can I still pick up free compost?
    • Yes. Now that the Transfer Station has reopened, residents of the RethinkWaste service area can obtain up to two 50-pound bags of compost free of charge. Bags and shovels are provided, though residents are welcome to bring their own gloves, shovels, and residents must load the compost themselves. Find more information here.
  • Are recyclable items still being sorted?
    • Yes. Recyclables are still being sold to domestic and international markets.
  • Are there precautions in place for South Bay Recycling workers at the Shoreway facility?
    • Workers at the Shoreway facility are practicing physical distancing with required protective equipment with increased cleaning and sanitizing of workspaces and common areas.
  • Can I put my masks, gloves, wipes, or other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the recycling or compost?
    • No, these always belong in the garbage even if the label says biodegradable. They contaminate the recycling stream and provide a health risk for facility workers.

Collection Services/Recology Information

  • I was notified that Bulky Item Collections (BIC) have been paused. When can I reschedule?
    • BIC services resumed on May 4th. Recology will complete all previously scheduled appointments that were suspended first. New appointments will be booked and serviced beginning the week of May 11th.
  • Have the kinds of items that go into the recycling cart changed?
    • Items that belong in each cart has not changed. Please continue to use your recycling, compost, and garbage carts as normal. If you need help knowing which item goes where, check out our residents page.
  • Are all three streams (compost, recycling, garbage) still being collected?
    • Yes. Compost, recycling, and garbage are all still being collected by Recology San Mateo County and processed at the Shoreway Environmental Center.
  • Will my service schedule change due to COVID-19?
    • At the moment, there are no service schedule changes for residential customers.
  • Can I still dispose of household batteries by placing them on top of my black garbage cart?
    • Yes. Residents in single-family homes can still place batteries in a clear zip-top bag on top of your black garbage cart on your regular collection day.
    • Some apartments or condominiums participate in Recology’s battery collection program. If so, collect batteries in a clear zip-top bag and place inside the orange bucket normally found in common areas such as a lobby, multi-use room, mailroom, or club house. 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 San Mateo County.

Shoreway Transfer Station Will Reopen to Public on May 4

RethinkWaste will reopen the Shoreway Environmental Center’s Transfer Station located at 333 Shoreway Road in San Carlos beginning May 4, based on the revised San Mateo County Health Order c19-5c issued on April 29 that is set to take effect May 4.

The Transfer Station will resume regular business hours to receive all regular, non-hazardous residential and commercial waste, including: solid waste materials, landscaping/organic materials, and construction and demolition materials. Full list of accepted materials can be found here. In addition, residents of the RethinkWaste service area will also be able to obtain up to two bags of high-quality compost materials for their gardens at no charge.

Transfer Station regular business hours: Monday-Friday: 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday:  8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

“We recognize the urgent community need to reopen the facility as residents and businesses reactivate their construction projects, clean out their garages and yards, and lots of other low-risk, allowable activities during this time,” said Joe La Mariana, RethinkWaste Executive Director.

With this opening, RethinkWaste expects a ramp up of visitors and materials and 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 use masks/face coverings and observe all mandated social distancing measures while on site. All public visitors will be subject to a non-contact, temperature screening test in accordance with the local Health Order. These tests will be administered at the public scale house and visitors who have excessive temperatures will not be allowed access to the facility

While the Shoreway Transfer Station will reopen, the Shoreway Public Recycling Center will remain closed. This facility that accepts residential waste such as excess cardboard, electronic waste, cooking oil, and other materials, has a smaller space that does not allow staff to currently comply with the County’s Health Officer order. When we can safely reopen this part of the facility, we will let the public know here on our website and social media channels.

In the meantime, we encourage members of the public that can hold on to their materials for a longer period of time to do so to allow for those low-risk services that are resuming to be able to use the Shoreway facility appropriately and safely. If you need tips or best practices on what to do with your waste, please visit review our latest news and blog posts, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts for information.

Please note that recycling, composting, and garbage services will still occur for residents and businesses by Recology San Mateo County in the RethinkWaste service area as this is an essential infrastructure service.

Shoreway Environmental Center Closed to the Public

Updated May 2, 2020

Starting Monday, May 4, 2020, the Shoreway Transfer Station will open to the public. The Public Recycling Center will remain closed until further notice.

Updated April 2, 2020

Due to the current Shelter in Place Order and to protect worker safety, the Shoreway Environmental Center is closed effective March 17 to the public until further notice. This includes the Public Recycling Center and the Transfer Station.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please check back here or our social media channels for the latest updates.

Please note that recycling, composting, and garbage services will still occur for residents and businesses by Recology San Mateo County in the RethinkWaste service area as this is an essential infrastructure service. Please continue to place carts out the night before your normal collection day to ensure proper service.

RethinkWaste’s administrative office’s in San Carlos are also currently closed, but Staff continues to work remotely to support our partners Recology and South Bay Recycling, and our Member Agencies and the communities we all serve.

Shoreway Facility Tours Temporarily Suspended

Updated April 29, 2020

Tours scheduled for June 2020 will proceed at this time, but no new tour requests will be processed. The status of the Shoreway Tour Program aligns with the closure of public access to the Shoreway Environmental Center facility for the duration of the San Mateo County Shelter in Place order. RethinkWaste staff will continue to provide updates as the COVID-19 situation progresses. Please check back here for updates.

If you are not able to attend a tour, but are interested in waste reduction education, please view alternative activities and resources on our Teaching Tools page.


Updated April 3, 2020

Tours scheduled for May and June 2020 will proceed at this time, but no new tour requests will be processed. The status of the Shoreway Tour Program aligns with the closure of public access to the Shoreway Environmental Center facility for the duration of the San Mateo County Shelter in Place directive. RethinkWaste staff will continue to provide updates as the COVID-19 situation progresses. Please check back here for updates.

If you are not able to attend a tour but are interested in waste reduction education, please view alternative activities and resources on our Teaching Tools page.


Due to increasing concerns regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) and recently issued directives from San Mateo County Health, the Shoreway Tour Program is suspended starting today March 11 for the rest of March 2020 and for all of April 2020. This includes our previously planned Shoreway Tours: Weekend Edition for April 4 and 5. The health and safety of our visitors is our top priority and postponing tours is a precautionary measure to help prevent the possible spread of the virus.

RethinkWaste Staff is closely following the progress of this rapidly changing situation and will let everyone know whether or not tours can be rescheduled or continue for May or June 2020. Please check back to our website or our social media channels for updates. These actions are in line with many cities and school districts in our RethinkWaste service area and we will continue to look to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and San Mateo County Health as our primary source of information and guidance.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact RethinkWaste staff.

Shoreway Facility Announcement

Update: February 6, 1:00 p.m.

The Shoreway Environmental Center facility is back up and running as normal.

February 6, 2020 11:00 a.m.

Please be advised that the Shoreway Environmental Center facility, including Transfer Station, Materials Recovery Facility, and Public Recycling Center are temporarily closed due to an unforeseen situation.

Please check back on our website here and/or our Facebook and Twitter pages for when the facility will re-open.

Thank you. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Temporary Closure of Buyback at Shoreway

The buyback portion of Shoreway Environmental Center’s Public Recycling Center (PRC) will temporarily close effective Friday, August 16 at 4:00 p.m. 

The recycling markets have significantly changed recently and as a result, the largest independent recycling company in the state, rePlanet, abruptly closed all 284 of its buyback centers throughout California on August 5, 2019, including three in the RethinkWaste service area. The unexpected and unforeseen closures created an overwhelming response to RethinkWaste’s San Carlos PRC, resulting in an unprecedented number of customers and volume of collected CRV containers to our facility. While our PRC recently completed a layout update to allow for a few more vehicles to queue in the buyback area, the percent increase does not match up with the increases in vehicles experienced in the last week. 

 “The safety of our community members and area is always our top priority and the long lines along Shoreway Road places our customers, the driving public, pedestrians, cyclists, employees of our facilities and neighbors and vendors at risk when arriving or departing the facility area,” said Joe La Mariana, RethinkWaste Executive Director. “We appreciate the public who use the CRV program now and in the past. We will assess market conditions and necessary program costs during this temporary closure period and look to the state for assistance in helping resolve this situation. Earliest possible date to resume buyback operations at the PRC is early October.” 

Please note that the Public Recycling Center will remain open Monday – Saturday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. to accept a wide variety of drop-off items (at no charge) from the public including excess cardboard, latex and oil-based paint, batteries, cooking oil, fluorescent lights and more. To see a full list click here.

RethinkWaste sincerely apologizes for the inconvenience and encourage people in search for alternate local buyback locations to visit RecycleStuff.org

Shoreway Facility Tours Update

RethinkWaste is always looking for ways to improve the equipment and processes at our publicly-owned Shoreway Environmental Center in San Carlos, and have just begun the installation of new, updated machinery to divert organics waste from landfill and convert it into natural biogas.

While we are very excited about this project, it does involve major construction, a major time commitment and major safety concerns for our site workers and guests.

The safety of our community members is our top priority and to ensure public safety and accommodate construction schedules and severely reduced parking capacity at the facilities, tours for the general public will not be available Fall 2019 through Summer 2020.

Tours will still be offered to school, business and organization groups that are able to arrive by bus. No-charge busing is provided for 3rd-5th grade classes in the RethinkWaste service area of Atherton, Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo, parts of unincorporated San Mateo County and the West Bay Sanitary District.

Tour access to certain areas of the Shoreway Environmental Center Transfer Station and Materials Recovery Facility may also be affected by construction activity during this period.

The RethinkWaste team expresses our sincerest apologies for the inconvenience. For questions or inquiries about qualifications please contact us.

Pilot program aims to save food waste from landfills

Every day, hundreds of tons of food are thrown away in San Mateo County. Not composted—thrown away.

“The reality is people aren’t very good at separating food waste,” said Hilary Gans, senior facilities manager at the waste management authority RethinkWaste. Organic waste makes up a third of all garbage collected in the county, he said: more than any other category. All that tossed food piles up in landfills, where it decomposes and releases harmful methane gas into the atmosphere.

A new device, however, could pull those numbers way down. It’s a big, green, $5 million machine called an OREX.

“It’s kind of like a garlic press,” Gordon Tong, program director of waste reduction at the county Office of Sustainability, said of the device, adding, “except all the stuff that oozes out of it is organics.”

Basically, he said, you load up the OREX, or “Organic Extrusion Press,” with garbage, and it separates out the organic waste — the food and compost — from everything else.

Read the full story by Matthew Vollrath on The Almanac here.