Recycling 2.0: Retake!

It’s a new world of recycling and not all recyclables are created equal. “China is rejecting loads of recycling and demanding that recycling materials be much cleaner,” says Mt. Diablo Resource Recovery Facility Manager Jim Nejedly.

What can we all do to help? The sorting of recyclables is automated so it helps if we keep recycling clean, dry and free of non-recyclable stuff. “It’s inevitable that little bits of plastics get into the paper recycling, for example. But now China wants paper virtually spotless,” Nejedly says. That’s one reason to toss any food-soiled paper (like napkins and pizza boxes) into your green cart to be composted.

Another way to keep your recyclables clean is to bag your clean plastic bags together rather than putting them loosely in your blue cart. And if it’s drippy or goopy, it can’t be recycled. Take a quick moment to wipe that extra food residue out of containers and most of all, keep any garbage out of the blue cart!

If you need an extra pick-up of recyclables or organics, all single-family households are allowed four on-call cleanups every year, at no additional charge. Call Republic Services at 925-685-4711 to schedule a recycling or organics appointment. For more information, visit

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It’s the Black Cart for Me!

Diapers, foam trays, garden hoses, treated wood, broken furniture, dishware, candy wrappers, potato chip bags, pet waste, cellophane, plus old clothes and shoes (which you can donate or put out on your next Reuse Day).

The Hazards of Hazardous Waste

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There are some items we all use that need special handling to be properly disposed of. Happily, your RecycleSmart program lets you conveniently get rid of them during your weekly curbside pickup.

Batteries. Place them in a clear, sealable plastic bag on top of your blue cart.

Cell phones. Put them in a clear, sealable plastic bag on top of your blue cart.

Compact fluorescent lightbulbs. It’s actually illegal to put bulbs in the trash. But, you can put them in a plastic bag next to your blue cart.

Motor oil and filters. Call Republic Services for a free disposal container, and set it out next to your blue cart during your weekly curbside pick-up.

E-Waste like printers, ear buds, TVs, computers and tablets. Get rid of them during your Reuse Day or call Republic Services for an e-waste pickup: 925-685-4711.

Household hazardous waste, such as paint thinner and gasoline containers, aerosol cans, chemicals (bleach, ammonia, pool chlorine) and propane tanks. You can take them to the Household Hazardous Waste Collection facility in Martinez; go to

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Toss Your Meds?

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by the Numbers

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School Recycling
up 700%!


In the 18 years since RecycleSmart began its school outreach programs in the 2000-2001 school year, recycling has increased from just 9% overall to 63%.

“And food waste recycling, which didn’t even exist then, is now almost 43% of the total,” says Ruth Abbe, who leads the program. Food waste goes to compost or to EBMUD, which uses it to generate electricity.

RecycleSmart offers technical assistance to school sites and staff, classroom presentations, lesson plans, free recycling equipment and tools, tours of the Recycling Center, Wastebuster cash awards up to $1,500 for schools that significantly reduce waste, and up to $4,000 in scholarships in partnership with Mt. Diablo Recycling to high school seniors who make significant contributions to reducing waste at their school.

And there’s more good news:

  • 20 schools of 66 in the RecycleSmart area are already over our goal of 75% diversion!
  • 45 schools are over 50% and climbing
  • 58 schools are diverting food scraps

Shout out to the top public schools: Buena Vista Elementary at 87% diversion, Indian Valley Elementary at 83%, Springhill Elementary at 81%, and Murwood Elementary and Parkmead Elementary at 80%.

We also service 23 private schools, and this year the program is expanding to preschools and to school-site daycare centers. “We hope to instill a strong recycling mantra in young kids so they stick with it when they’re older too,” Abbe says.


The Discerning Reader

Some mail you want to read (like this newsletter!)—some you don’t. Here are some ways to opt out of what you don’t.

  • Opt-out of automatic phonebook deliveries at
  • Use an app to opt-out of junk mail and catalogs, such as
  • Whether read or not, toss it in right into the blue cart when you’re done with it.
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Check out My Resource™ for 24/7 secure access to your account—from your desktop or mobile phone. You can pay your garbage bill, set up Auto Pay, go paperless, schedule extra pickups, get weather/holiday service updates and lots more. Sign up at

A tip from John D. In Danville


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I don’t have a lot of room for composting, but I do have some herbs and flowers. I’ve found a way to keep my plants hearty without spending money on fertilizers and soil amendments. I created a micro-composter that sits on my back porch. It’s a cool way to show my kids how organics decompose into compost, on a really small scale.

Here’s how I made it:


Cut the top off of a clean liter soda bottle and poke some air holes in it.


Add damp but not soaked soil at the bottom.


Add a handful of food scraps (veggies, coffee/tea, bread, egg shells, but no meat or dairy).


Repeat until the bottle is full, with the top layer soil.


Spray the soil and bottle with water so that the environment is damp.


Place in a sunny spot, spray when the soil goes dry, and shake occasionally.


Watch for six to eight weeks while your food scraps slowly decompose into compost.


Add your rich, compost soil to plants and flowers.


Rinse and repeat.

My kids found it fascinating and both my plants and wallet are very happy!


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Do you have any tips you’d like to share?

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A Recycle Scavenger Hunt

There are tons of stuff all around us that can be reused, recycled or composted. You can hunt at home or visit your local park (wear gloves!) and see how quickly you and your friends can collect items on the list.

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  • 3 items that can be used in a craft project
  • 2 plastic items that can be used to hold pens and crayons
  • 1 compostable organic item (like an apple core, banana peel, peach pit)
  • 1 compostable paper item (used paper towel, paper plate, pizza box)
  • 5 aluminum cans to recycle or make into bracelets (see our last Kids Corner online for details)
  • 10 metal bottle caps to recycle

Maybe the adult in your life might even offer a prize for the most collected!