There's a Landfill Ban in Alameda County

Since 2010, Alameda County law has required that all plant debris be separated and recycled.  What does this mean for landscape professionals, residents and businesses?

When you haul plant debris:
Be sure the plant debris you take to your local disposal facility is free of garbage. At the disposal facility, unload the plant debris in designated "clean green" areas.

When you dispose of plant debris on-site:
Where on-site service is available, separate your yard waste from your garbage by placing all plant debris in the designated bins.

Plant Debris Includes:
• Grass
• Leaves
• Palm and Cactus

• Shrubbery
• Vines
• Tree branches and trimmings

By complying, you're helping to reduce landfill volumes, improve soil health and helping Alameda County meet its voter-mandated diversion goals. It's not just the right thing to do, it's the law.

While the goal of the ordinance is compliance and environmental protection, violators are subject to citations and fines for non-compliance.  Find more information about the Alameda County Landfill Ban and to download the Alameda County Landfill Ordinance


Frequently Asked Questions


Q:  What is this landfill ban?
A: It is an Alameda County law, passed by the Alameda County Waste Management Authority in early 2009, prohibiting landfill disposal of plant debris, also called “green waste.” This includes grass, leaves, shrubbery and tree trimmings.

Q: Why is this law important?
A: Alameda County voters approved a goal of diverting 75 percent of all waste from landfill by 2010.  Plant debris can be easily and economically composted and transformed into a valuable soil amendment.  This reduces landfill volumes, improves soil health and helps Alameda County meet its voter-mandated diversion goal.

Q: What is considered “clean green” and what is not?
A: Materials banned from landfill in Alameda County include grass, leaves, shrubbery, vines, tree branches and trimmings.  "Clean green" does not include lumber or manufactured wood products, although those materials may also be recoverable.

Q: How do I have to change what I’ve been doing to comply with the law? 
A: Most people have already been keeping plant debris separate by placing it in their green carts, or delivering it to the "clean green" area at a disposal facility (for a lower charge) where it is diverted from landfill.  But large quantities of plant debris can be contaminated with just small amounts of trash, and the whole load then becomes garbage.  Please keep your plant debris "garbage-free."

Q: I’m a resident and I have been throwing out my plant debris, my food scraps and my food-soiled paper in the green bin.  Should I be doing anything differently now?
A: Keeping doing what you’re doing.  Residential green carts will continue to be collected for composting and will not go to the landfill.  Thank you for recycling!

Q: When did the law go into effect?
A:  The law is now in effect.  Since January 1, 2010, potential fines can be assessed to those who fail to separate their plant debris.

Q: Are there penalties if I don’t comply?  What are the penalties?
A: Violators of the ordinance may be subject to citations and fines of $100, $200 or $500 for first, second or additional violations within a year.  Facilities may be subject to higher fines.  The goal of the ordinance is compliance and environmental protection, not the collection of fines.

Q:  Who can I contact with questions or to learn more?
A:  A toll-free hotline for Alameda County also has been set up. Call 1-888-893-9929 for more information.