Multi-Family FAQS

This page highlights frequently asked questions for residents in multi-family dwellings (apartment and condominium complexes with five or more units). Click on the questions below to see answers. Don’t see the answers you’re looking for? We’d love to help! Drop us a line and send us your question using our contact form.


How do I recycle my used batteries and old cell phone?


Some apartments/condos participate in a battery/cell phone bucket program. These orange buckets (pictured) are normally found in common areas such as a lobby, multi-use room, mailroom, or clubhouse. If you don’t see one at your location, ask your Property Manager or owner to request a bucket from Recology.

You can also drop-off your batteries for free at participating locations within the RethinkWaste service area. For a map of drop-of locations and more information about battery disposal, visit our battery page.


How do I get rid of bulky items (appliances, furniture)?

If you have items you want to get rid of that still may be of use to someone else, such as furniture, clothing, or other household items, please consider donating usable items to family/friends, local charity, or non-profit organization. Check RecycleStuff.org for donation locations. Other online resources, include Nextdoor, FreeCycle, and Craigslist.

If none of those options are available or if your item is no longer usable, please contact your Property Manager to schedule a bulky item pick-up for your entire complex from Recology. For a fee, you can individually schedule a bulky item pick-up from Recology. Or you can drop them off at the Shoreway Environmental Center. Check out this pricing list, as fees may apply for certain items.

Where can I dispose of my hazardous waste (latex and oil-based paint, fluorescent lights, cleaners, pesticides, and motor oil/filters)?

San Mateo County’s Household Hazardous Waste Program helps residents responsibly dispose of their hazardous waste for free. Residents MUST schedule an appointment at smchealth.org/hhw or by calling (650) 363-4718. For more options and information on hazardous waste disposal, visit our household hazardous waste page.

Where can I dispose of expired medicines?

There are over 50 locations in San Mateo County that accept unwanted and expired medicines, including local pharmacies and police stations. Visit Med-Project to find locations near you.

Can I use plastic bags in my kitchen pail?

No. Plastic of any kind, including bags, are not accepted in the Compost program. Line your kitchen pail with a BPI-certified bag, newspaper, or paper bag to keep it clean. Empty the contents of your kitchen pail every 1-2 days to prevent odors. Consider keeping your pail in the freezer, as freezing the pail prevents leaks and smells. For more kitchen pail tips, visit our compost page.

Should my recyclables be put into a bag before being put into the blue bin/cart?

No, recyclables should be put into the recycling bin loose. Residents can request a reusable Recycling Buddy Bag from Recology, free of charge, which makes collecting and carrying your recyclables easier.


Can plastic bags go in the recycling bin/cart?

No, we do not accept plastic bags in the recycling bin/cart. Check your local grocery store to see if they take back plastic bags or visit Recyclestuff.org for a list of drop-off locations.

How can I recycle an old mattress?

Residents can drop off their mattress free of charge at the Shoreway Transfer Station. This drop off is part of the Mattress Recycling Council’s Bye Bye Mattress program. Click here to see which mattresses and box springs qualify for recycling.

Why aren’t soy milk containers recyclable?

Soy milk containers are usually aseptic containers, which means they are made up of different materials, such as foil, paper and plastic. Since the materials are glued closely together, it makes it difficult for us to separate the materials to be recycled. These types of containers usually hold broth and milk, and can be found in the shelf-stable section of the grocery store.

Are old CDs and DVDs recyclable?

If you are unable to donate or reuse old CDs and DVDs, these items go in the garbage.

Can black plastic go in the recycling bin/cart?

No, black plastic does not go in the recycling. Plastic items at the Shoreway Environmental Center are sorted by optical scanners and black plastic cannot be read by them. Additionally, black plastic is a cheap quality plastic and does not have a market to be sold to. If you cannot reuse it, black plastic goes in the garbage.

How do I recycle my holiday tree?

Please contact your Property Manager to collect holiday trees for your complex. Holiday trees can be collected in centrally located pile(s), on-site compost containers, or in a debris box for no additional charge between January 2 and 31.

Does the recycling triangle mean that an item is recyclable?

Not necessarily. We only accept plastic materials with a number that ranges from 1-7.  The numbers indicate the type of plastic material the item is made of. If there is no number and it cannot be reused, it goes into the garbage.

Are all plastic recycled after being collected?

Plastics, along with any item collected for recycling, must have a downstream or end market where it can be turned into something new to be recycled. Without a destination (or an end market) where materials can be made into something new, “recyclables” wouldn’t be actually “recycled.”

Right now, number plastics labeled 3-7 do not have a market, and therefore these plastics are currently being landfilled.

Where can I dispose of cooking oil?

You can dispose of cooking oil at the Shoreway Public Recycling Center, free of charge.

What is wish-cycling?

Wish-cycling is placing something in the recycle bin “wishing” it will be sorted and recycled. Before you need to sort your waste, please check out WhatBin.com to see where the item correctly belongs or use RecycleStuff.org for items that don’t go into any cart or bin.


Who do I contact about getting compost services for my apartment/condo complex?

Contact your Property Manager to express interest in getting compost services set up at your apartment/condo complex. They can then contact Recology to set up service.

Where can I get free compost?

We offer free compost at our Shoreway Transfer Station in San Carlos, for all residents within our service area. Visit our Compost page to learn more.

When is the next shredding and/or e-scrap collection event?

Check our events page for the next shred/e-scrap event in your city or town. Shred and E-Scrap events are held annually by RethinkWaste and on behalf of our participating Member Agencies.

E-Scrap is accepted year-round at the Shoreway Public Recycling Center.

Don’t see the answers you’re looking for? We’d love to help! Drop us a line and send us your question using our contact form.