About The Program

RethinkWaste, with the help of its service provider, Recology San Mateo County, offers weekly recycle, compost and garbage collection. The 3-cart system was designed to make it easy and convenient for residents to keep materials out of the landfill.

Need to know your collection service day? Simply click here and input your zip code to get started! For customer service questions regarding your pick up, contact Recology San Mateo County here.

Proper Sorting

Help achieve a better community by sorting properly! A recent California state law, Senate Bill (SB) 1383, requires every city, town and county to conduct annual reviews of residential carts to monitor contamination and proper sorting in the green Compost Cart. A lot of the material currently going to local landfills is compost material (food scraps, yard trimmings, and food/beverage soiled paper) that could have been beneficially collected in the Compost Cart.

RethinkWaste or its contractor may be in your neighborhood throughout the year assessing your carts. RethinkWaste is only looking for proper sorting and may leave outreach on your carts with helpful tips and information on how to sort properly. Contact us with questions.

Recycling & Composting Tips

The list of items accepted in the blue Recycle Cart and the green Compost Cart is very extensive, leaving very little for the black Garbage Cart. Read on for some tips on how to increase your recycling and composting efforts.

  • Make it easy. Set up designated stations/containers for recycling and compost for use in the home, preferably next to your garbage or within easy reach of the kitchen. Use what you have, including reusable or paper bags, large containers, etc.. This way, you can easily separate things as you go about your day, such as placing the junk mail, empty soda can or glass jar in the designated recycling container or scraping leftovers into your kitchen pail for compost.
  • Think before you toss. Take just a second to ask yourself if an item is accepted in the blue Recycle Cart or green Compost Cart before you throw it in the garbage. If the answer is, “yes,” then do the right thing by recycling or composting it.
  • When in doubt—look! There are labels on the lids of each of your carts, along with a listing of items to help you determine what can go in each cart. You can also use Recology’s What Bin Search Tool.
  • All together now. Remember, you can put all of your recyclables together, this includes bottles, cans, plastic containers, mixed paper, newspaper and cardboard. You don’t have to separate them.
  • Compost it. Put all your food scraps and food and beverage-soiled paper products in the green Compost Cart along with your yard trimmings and grass clippings. This includes fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, dairy, bones, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, pizza boxes, paper plates, paper napkins, and paper cups, just to name a few. Click here for composting tips and tricks.

Blue Cart (Recycling) Do’s & Don’ts



  • Glass bottles & jars (lids okay)


  • Aluminum cans
  • Aluminum foil & trays (must be clean and balled up)
  • Steel (tin) cans
  • Spray cans (must be empty or dry)

Plastic (#1-7)

  • Plastic Bottles, caps, lids, containers and cups
  • Tubs
  • Clamshells (Clear)

Clean and Dry Paper Products

  • Cardboard (non-waxed)
  • Computer & office paper (all colors)
  • Egg cartons (cardboard)
  • Envelopes
  • Magazines and junk mail
  • Milk & Juice cartons
  • Newspapers
  • Packing & craft paper
  • Paper Bags
  • Phone books and paperback books
  • Sticky note paper
  • Shredded paper (place in paper bag labeled “Shredded Paper” first)
  • Wrapping paper (non-metallic)

Please, NO:

  • Automotive parts & products
  • Batteries & cell phones
  • Black plastic
  • Diapers
  • Dishware
  • Flower & nursery pots
  • Food
  • Garbage
  • Garden hoses
  • Household hazardous waste
  • Juice, soup or soy milk boxes with foil liners
  • Light bulbs (incandescents, fluorescents, or HIDs)
  • Metallic or glittered paper
  • Mirrors
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic corks
  • Plastic & wire hangers
  • Plastic film, shrink wrap & bubble wrap
  • Soiled paper (paper cups, plates, napkins, towels, take-out boxes & greasy pizza boxes)
  • Styrofoam packaging & food containers
  • Packing peanuts
  • Styrofoam egg cartons

Green Cart (Compost) Do’s & Don’ts


Food scraps

  • Bread, grains & pasta
  • Bones
  • Coffee grounds
  • Dairy
  • Eggshells
  • Fish & Shellfish
  • Fruit, including pits
  • Meat, including bones
  • Poultry
  • Vegetables

Food or Beverage-Soiled Paper Products

  • Coffee filters
  • Ice cream containers
  • Paper cups and plates
  • Paper napkins and towels
  • Paper take-out boxes & containers
  • Paper tea bags
  • Pizza boxes
  • Waxed cardboard & paper
  • Wine corks (natural only)

Yard Trimmings

  • Branches & brush
  • Flowers & floral trimmings
  • Grass & yard clippings
  • Leaves
  • Tree trimmings
  • Untreated, clean wood

Please, NO:

  • Animal waste
  • Ash
  • Cat litter
  • Concrete & Asphalt
  • Cooking oil
  • Diapers
  • Dirt, rocks & bricks
  • Glass
  • Liquids
  • Palm fronds
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic corks
  • Plywood
  • Recyclables (glass, aluminum, paper & plastics #1-7)
  • Styrofoam packaging, food containers and peanuts
  • Treated & painted wood

Black Cart (Garbage) Do’s & Don’ts



  • Black Plastic
  • Incandescent light bulbs
  • Juice or soy milk-type boxes with foil liners
  • Pens & pencils
  • Pet Waste
  • Plastic bags, film & wrappers
  • Rubber bands
  • Snack bags & wrappers
  • Styrofoam

Please, NO:

  • Batteries
  • Household hazardous waste
  • Electronic Waste
  • Batteries and Cell Phones
  • Liquids
  • Medicines
  • Motor oil & oil filters
  • Sharp objects

Curbside/Roadside Service

Recology provides collection services utilizing fully automated collection vehicles that operate a mechanical arm to lift the carts. Please use the following guidelines when setting your carts out for service: 

Carts must be set out by 6 a.m. on your collection day. Place carts curbside (in the street) with the wheels against the curb and arrows on the lid pointed toward the street. If you live on a street without a curb, place them roadside. Place each cart approximately 24 inches, or 2 feet apart, all facing the same direction. View the Proper Cart Set Out insert for examples. 

Remember to also put your carts away/keep them stored out of sight after they have been collected. This helps keep roadways and bike lanes clear while keeping pedestrians and bicyclists safe! Also, many communities have ordinances requiring that carts be put away out of sight, or residents may be fined. 

Backyard Collection Service: Residents who do not wish to leave their carts out curbside or roadside can request Backyard Collection Service. Recology will make arrangements to service your carts from a mutually designated area for an additional fee, dependent upon the distance and elevation from the curb. Contact Recology at carts@recology.com or call (650) 595-3900 for more information. 

Kitchen Pails for Compost

Residents are provided a 2-gallon kitchen pail that are meant to be used as a convenience in your home. Simply use the pail for food scraps in your home and then empty the contents into your green Compost Cart. The pail does not get placed on the street for collection. If you need a replacement kitchen pail, you can order one today from Recology through their contact form. 

You can use newspapers, paper bags, and paper towels to line the kitchen pail or collect your food scraps. 

You can also use compostable bags to line your kitchen pail or Compost Cart, and to collect food scraps. The bags must be approved as compostable by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), and can be found at Costco, Whole Foods, Mollie Stone’s and some Safeway, Walgreens and CVS locations. For a list of approved bags, click here.