In September 2007, CCCSWA started a new food scrap recycling program. The goal of this program is to create a convenient and effective method for residents to recover valuable food scraps that will then be composted into a 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. The program serves Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Walnut Creek and unincorporated Contra Costa County areas adjacent to these communities.

How the Program Works

A small, 2-gallon kitchen collection pail (see photo) will be or has been delivered to all households in communities served by the food scrap 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 Valley Waste Management at 925-935-8900 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 yard waste cart for weekly collection on your garbage/recycle collection day.

For acceptable and unacceptable materials to recycle, please click here to view our flier to see what can and cannot be recycled!

Helpful tips when recycling your food scraps

  • Empty your food scraps into your green waste cart on your recycling collection day. Leaving food in your green cart for long periods may attract flies.
  • Cover food scraps with yard waste in your cart to avoid pests and odors. Yard waste will mask the food waste 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.
  • Please, no plastic bags of any type are accepted (includes biodegradable).

Frequently Asked Questions

I use the Garbage Disposal in my kitchen sink for food scrap disposal. Why should I use this new program? Placing food and grease down your in-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. Use this new program for food scraps and place grease or fat in a sealed container in your garbage!

How can I keep my Food Recycling 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 yard waste cart. Or, if you prefer, wrap food in newspaper and drop it in your yard waste cart. Please, do not use biodegradable or regular plastic bags in the program!

Will food smell in my green waste cart? Placing food scraps in your green cart is no different than placing food scraps in your garbage cart. It should not create a bad odor. In fact, placing food scraps in with yard waste will help reduce potential odors.

Some residents have asked if a green cart container yard and food waste will exhaust methane gas or other dangerous gases. Methane is a product of anaerobic decomposition and this will not happen in a yard waste cart containing food waste for a short period of time. The most likely source of odors is either the basic smell of food and/or yard waste 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 waste attract pests? Adding food scraps to the green 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 waste, covering the food scrap with a layer of yard waste, or placing the food scrap in a paper bag or wrapping it in newspaper will minimize the potential to attract pests. Some residents have mentioned seeing small “fruit flies” around their green cart. These small flies are common around containers holding organic waste, especially food waste. They are also quite common around backyard compost bins. They lay their eggs on decomposing organic waste and their larvae eat the waste, contributing to decomposition. They will stay in or around your green cart but will not invade your home nor are they a health hazard. If they are really a nuisance to you, wrap your food waste 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 waste in newspaper or paper bags.
  • Place in your green cart, bury in the yard waste if convenient, and make sure the lid is closed.

Why can’t I dispose of plastic bags with food scraps? Plastic is not compostable. Plastic bags or any other kind of plastic product must be kept out of the green cart. If you want to use bags to hold food scraps, please use paper bags! Recycle plastic containers with other curbside recyclables. Plastic bags can be recycled at most groceries stores.

Why can’t I recycle Biodegradable plastic bags with my food scraps Regular (non-biodegradable) plastic bags are very bad for the food/yard waste composting process. Film plastic is very hard to remove from compost and reduces the marketability of the finished compost. Because our compost facility operator has no way to distinguish between non-biodegradable and biodegradable bags when mixed with yard waste, they have prohibited use of biodegradable plastic bags. If and when biodegradable plastic bags become more easily distinguishable from regular plastic, then they may be accepted in the program.

I don’t have any yard waste. Does that mean I can’t participate? This program is designed to collect food with yard waste. The yard waste will help mask any odors from the food waste. However, you can try placing food waste in a double-bagged paper grocery bag that is tightly closed and placed in your green 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, and napkins.

What happens to the yard and food scrap once collected? The collected yard and food scrap will be composted at the Newby Island Composting Facility near Milpitas, 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 scrap could return to your yard as high quality compost used by your landscaper!