Residential Food Scraps Program
The goal of this program is to create a convenient and effective method for residents to divert food scraps that will be composted, producing high quality soil amendment. This program is designed to significantly reduce residential food waste disposal and put our food scraps to a better use through composting.
If you live in our service area: Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Walnut Creek, Danville, Blackhawk, Alamo, Diablo and parts of unincorporated Contra Costa County, then you can participate in the program.
Residents of Danville, Blackhawk, Alamo, and Diablo click here to view the postcard you will be receiving from Republic Services and RecycleSmart.
How the Program Works …
A small, 2-gallon kitchen collection pail is available to all households in communities served by the Food Scraps program. This food recycling container can be stored underneath the kitchen sink or in a cabinet. The container has a tight sealing lid and carry handle. If you recently moved into a community receiving this service, and your home does not have a pail, please contact Republic Services at (925) 685-4711 for a replacement. Or you can use you own substitute food storage container. Place all food scraps and other acceptable discards with your yard waste in the green organics cart for weekly collection.
Helpful tips when recycling your food scraps:
- Empty your food scraps into your organics cart on your collection day. Leaving food in your organics cart for long periods may attract flies.
- Cover food scraps with yard trimmings in your cart to avoid pests and odors. Yard trimmings will mask the food scraps odors, preventing pests from detecting it!
- Line kitchen pail with paper towels or newspaper which will help keep your pail clean. The liner paper can be recycled with the food scraps!
- Optional: Freeze food scraps before emptying into your cart. Some residents have done this as a sanitary way to manage food scrap storage, especially very wet food scrap materials.
- Only Compostable (not Biodegradable) plastic bags may be used. Purchase compostable bags with the "Compostable: BPI - Meets ASTM 6400 Standard" label on the packaging.
Frequently Asked Questions
I use the Garbage Disposal in my kitchen sink for food scraps disposal. Why should I use this program? Placing food and grease down your sink garbage disposal may clog your home’s sewer line. The Central Contra Costa Sanitary District (Central San) actively discourages placing large amounts of food and all grease or fatty materials in the sewage system.
How can I keep my food scraps container clean? A good way to keep your kitchen container clean is to use a paper bag insert or line the container with newspaper. Any lunch bag-size paper bag will work. Consider double bagging for added strength. Place the bag and its contents into your organics cart. Or, if you prefer, wrap food in newspaper and drop it in your organics cart. If using plastic bags, only use those labeled as "Compostable", not "Biodegradable.
Will food smell in my organics cart? Placing food scraps in your organics cart is no different than placing food scraps in your landfill/garbage cart. It should not create a bad odor. In fact, placing food scraps in with yard trimmings will help reduce potential odors.
Some residents have asked if the organics cart containing yard trimmings and food scraps will exhaust methane gas or other dangerous gases. Methane is a product of anaerobic decomposition and this will not happen in your organics cart containing food scraps for a short period of time. The most likely source of odors is either the basic smell of food and/or yard trimmings beginning the decomposition process or grass clippings off gassing ammonia compounds (due to high nitrogen content). No health hazards are associated with this.
Will placing food scraps with my yard trimmings attract pests? Adding food scraps to the organics cart should not attract animals or flies. Normally, flies and animals are attracted by strong odors. Pests should not be an issue if there is little or no odor. Mixing food scraps into the yard trimmings, covering the food scrap with a layer of yard trimmings, or placing the food scrap in a paper bag, compostable bag, or wrapping it in newspaper will minimize the potential to attract pests. Some residents have mentioned seeing small “fruit flies” around their organics cart. These small flies are common around containers holding organic waste, especially food waste. They are also quite common around backyard compost bins. They will not invade your home nor are they a health hazard. If they are really a nuisance to you, wrap your food scraps in a newspaper or place in a paper bag to isolate the waste from the outside environment.
I still have concerns about using this program but want to participate. How should I start out? If you have concerns about odors or pests, you can exclude food materials that are most “aromatic”. These include meat, dairy, or fish waste. You will still be able to recycle less aromatic materials like fruit, vegetables, bread, and coffee. Follow these simple steps when handling your food waste:
- Recycle food scraps you are most comfortable with. Fruits and vegetable scraps are less aromatic then meat and dairy so start with these items first!
- Wrap or contain food scrap in newspaper or paper bags.
- Place in your organics cart, bury in the yard trimmings, if convenient and make sure the lid is closed.
Why can’t I dispose of plastic bags with food scraps? Regular plastic bags are not compostable. Regular plastic bags or most other kinds of plastic products must be kept out of the organics cart. If you want to use plastic bags to hold food scraps, use only "Compostable (not Biodegradable) plastic bags with the "Compostable BPI - Meets ASTM 6400 Standard" label on the packaging. You may also use paper bags.
Why can’t I recycle biodegradable plastic bags with my food scraps? Biodegradable plastic bags are designed to breakdown over time, but their decomposition normally takes much longer, requiring many months. The normal composting cycle (period) at large compost facilities that accepts your yard waste and food scraps is 6 to 8 weeks. Compostable plastic bags are designed to breakdown within the normal composting cycle so there is no plastic residue in the finished compost. Residual regular plastic or biodegradable plastic in finished compost will hurt the ability of the compost facility to sell the compost for reuse.
I need to replace my current food scraps container, how do I get a new one? You can contact Republic Services at (925) 685-4711 and request a new container. They will deliver it to you on your next regular day pickup.
I don’t have any yard waste. Does that mean I can’t participate? This program is designed to collect food scraps with yard trimmings. The yard trimmings will help mask any odors from the food waste. However, you can try placing food scraps in a double-bagged paper grocery bag or compostable plastic bag that is tightly closed and place in your organics cart with the lid closed.
What types of paper can I recycle with the food scraps? Acceptable paper includes food-soiled paper bags, newspaper used to line the food recycling container, paper towels, napkins, and pizza boxes.
What happens to the yard trimmings and food scraps once collected? The collected yard trimmings and food scraps will be composted, resulting in a high quality soil amendment. This compost is then sold to agricultural businesses, nurseries and large landscape companies. It is quite possible that your former yard and food waste could return to your yard as high quality compost used by your landscaper!