Power lunch

Did you know that food scraps can help create clean energy and clean water?

Since 2010, hundreds of Central Contra Costa restaurants and commercial kitchens have been turning food waste into clean energy through RecycleSmart’s Food Recycling Project.

Here’s how:

illustration representing the 3 steps. Food scraps going from kitchen to digesters to electricity which powers the water treatment facility

Republic Services picks up food discards from commercial kitchens, then takes them to the Contra Costa Transfer Station, where contaminants like plastics or metals are removed and the scraps get ground up. (Check inside for the ways we recover food!)


The ground-up food waste moves to EBMUD’s wastewater treatment facility in Oakland where it’s placed in large digesters. CHOMP!


The digesters process the food waste, which creates methane gas. EBMUD turns this gas into electricity and uses it to power the treatment facility—keeping our water clean. Excess energy goes to the Port of Oakland nearby.

Our commercial food recycling program has more than 500 restaurants, grocery stores and schools doing their part to divert food waste from landfill. The back cover of this issue includes how to find your local favorite.

So the next time you eat out, think about those table scraps…from enchiladas to energy—it’s food for thought.

Join the Pony Express!

volunteer holding out phone with White Pony Express logo on screen and donations in the car trunk behind her

There is a great new food recovery program in our area and it is looking for volunteers!

This year, White Pony Express and RecycleSmart are working together to get more businesses connected to food recipient programs through the Food Rescue Direct program. This volunteer-led initiative is made possible through a grant from CalRecycle.

Food Rescue Direct helps businesses like restaurants and caterers to donate their prepared food—from bread, produce, and prepared food, to pre-packaged meals—more frequently to support their community.

What’s extra exciting is that White Pony Express can now coordinate surplus food donations from 600 more organizations than they could before.

And anyone can be a part of the process!

What does it take to volunteer? Food runners pick up food from one donor—no more than what can fit in the trunk of a car—and deliver it to one recipient. That’s it! Although volunteers need a car for the Food Rescue Direct program, there are other volunteer opportunities that do not require a car.

Contra Costa County residents can sign up to become food runners on the website below. Participants can volunteer as often as they would like. The whole family can even join in on the deliveries!

For more information about how you can get involved, check out

empenadas with text that says filling great about food recovery

Where it goes

food scraps
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Reduce Your Food Waste

According to the Department of Food and Agriculture, 6 million tons of food waste is thrown away in California every year, making food the most prevalent item in California’s waste stream. In Contra Costa County, one out of every six people are food insecure and struggle to find their next meal. When we make the most of our food, we can help the food supply system, the environment and save money.

Go to RecycleSmart.org/food-recovery for tips on how you can reduce your food waste.

COOL is the law in California

chef putting pizza in oven

Did you hear? Senate Bill 1383, which keeps “Compostable Organics Out of Landfills,” took effect on January 1! Before today, organics like food scraps, yard trimmings, and uncoated food-soiled paper made up half of what Californians dumped in landfills.* But no more!

Now, ALL California residents and businesses are required to separate organic waste from their trash.

Other goals of this law include:

  • Reducing organics sent to the landfill by 75% in just three years.
  • Increasing edible food recovery for some commercial kitchens by 20% by 2025.
  • Requiring local governments to use products made from recycled organic material, like renewable energy, compost and mulch.

Of course, organics collection services are available for residents and businesses in the RecycleSmart service area. For a little boost to our residents, we offer a kitchen food scraps container at no cost. Just call Republic Services at 925-685-4711 to get yours.

You can learn more about RecycleSmart’s organics program at RecycleSmart.org/houses/green-cart or to learn more about SB 1383, you can visit RecycleSmart.org/1383

A tip from Abe L. in Lafayette

Waste free shopping spree

Image of bulk nuts in grocery store with text we're nuts about zero-waste!

Hi RecycleSmart!

Lately, I have noticed that some supplies in our house—especially items like soaps, shampoo and dried food—come with a lot of packaging! This year, my household has decided to start shopping at refill and bulk food stores to reduce waste.

  • Resourcefill in Lafayette is a refill shop for personal care items such as soaps and shampoos and household items like detergents.
  • Planet Renu in Walnut Creek is another zero-waste refill store with eco-friendly clothes, food storage, pet and personal care items.
  • House in Concord has a health food store with a bulk foods section that has over 700 items to choose from.
  • We have also started asking for no plasticware, napkins or extra sauces when we order takeout. Small things like this add up!

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

Send your ideas to Authority@RecycleSmart.org


Go Green!

Color only the things that go in your green cart.

kids corner coloring page

Click the image above to print out at full size.

donut, carrot, can