Think Before You Toss!

Sorting Right Makes a Difference

Note: The information on this page refers to residents and businesses within the RethinkWaste service area*. Check with your local jurisdiction for sorting information pertaining to your location.

Compost, Recycling or Garbage? Sometimes it’s hard to know which bin is the right bin to use. But sorting right makes a difference, so please think before you toss!

Sorting right helps create healthy compost, ensures recyclables can be made into new products, reduces waste and fights climate change! But it is harder and more expensive to realize these wonderful benefits when there is too much of the “wrong” stuff mixed in with the “right” stuff. When we sort right, our waste collection programs can make a huge difference to the environment.

Because sorting waste items correctly into the recycling, compost and garbage carts is vital to the success of our programs, state and local law now requires residents, businesses, and schools to sort 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.

RethinkWaste is here to help you sort it right:

1. Know What Goes Where
Think Before You Toss! Double check that something is accepted before placing it in a cart. Check the cart label, or review what is accepted and not accepted by clicking on the link for your type of service below.

Still have questions?
You can also use Recology’s WhatBin tool to search for an item.

For any remaining questions, reach out to our sorting experts in the form at the bottom of this page!

2. Recycle Right: Empty, Dry and Loose.
Recyclables are made into new products, so they need to be clean enough to use. When you sort your recycling into the blue bin, make sure containers are empty, dry and loose. That means no food or liquids in bottles, cans and jars. Food goes in the green bin. Liquids should be poured down the sink. And lastly, keep items loose, not in plastic bags.

    3. Compost: Keep it Clean.
    Composting food and yard trimmings creates a healthy soil product that helps grow our food. When you sort compostable items into your green bin, make sure they are ready to become healthy compost: only food, plants, and food/beverage-soiled paper. Keep it clean by removing produce labels, all plastic, glass, and metal.

    4. Garbage: Keep the Good Stuff Out.
    Keeping the good stuff out of the garbage is also important. For example, when food goes to the landfill (and it will, if it’s in the garbage bin!) it decomposes in a way that creates more greenhouse gases than if it was composted. All food and food/beverage-soiled paper goes in the green bin. Bottles, cans, jars, and paper go in the recycling bin. The rest is garbage.

    Watch more videos on our YouTube Channel.

    *RethinkWaste service area consists of: Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo, Unincorporated Part of San Mateo County, West Bay Sanitary District

    Ask the Sorting Expert

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