Food Scrap Recycling

Please note, CVSan’s printed Food Scraps & Yard Waste Recycling Guide is no longer being updated or reprinted.

A recent study found that food scraps and food-soiled paper were the most common materials that Castro Valley residents and businesses sent to the landfill.  37 percent of what we put in the garbage can be composted instead.  As a result, Castro Valley Sanitary District (CVSan) has an ambitious plan, and your green organics cart is an important part of it.  We have a goal to reduce the amount of solid waste sent to landfills by 75 percent and beyond.  How?  By doing more of what we're already doing, such as placing food scraps, food-soiled paper, and plant debris in the green organics cart.

In 2001, CVSan residents became the first in Alameda County to compost food scraps and food-soiled paper in the green organics cart.  Instead of taking space in the landfill, food scraps and food-soiled paper are combined with plant debris and sent to a composting facility.  After processing, your leftovers become compost -- a valuable resource used by landscapers, farmers, schools and you.

How Do I Participate?
  1. Collect food scraps and food-soiled paper in your kitchen pail or container of your choice. Biodegradable plastics including bio-bags can be placed in your organics cart/bin.
  2. Place collected food scraps and food-soiled paper, along with any yard trimmings you may have, into your Green Organics Cart.
  3. Set out your Green Organics Cart by 6:00 a.m. on your weekly collection day.
For more information call Castro Valley Sanitary District at (510) 537-0757.

Two Pail Options Available
  1.  2.4 gallon organics pail with lid and handle: This smaller pail fits on the countertop.  Line with newspaper; paper grocery bags will be too large.
  2.  6 gallon organics open-air pail: This larger pail with no lid fits under the counter or on the floor.  Line with a paper grocery bag.
CVSan residents may submit a Donation and Supply Request Form to We will follow up to coordinate a contactless pick up from the Castro Valley Sanitary District office located at 21040 Marshall Street.  Two options are now available: an "open-air pail" with no lid or a lidded pail with vents.  Both allow food scraps to breathe, which helps to reduce odor and mold. Empty contents of the pail into your Green Organics Cart.  Do not set your pail at the curb.

Tips to Maintain Your Food Scraps Pail and Green Organics Cart
Maggots are fly larvae and occur when flies lay eggs on organic materials.  This can occur in any cart where organic materials are placed (garbage or organics cart).  Maggots typically have a 7-day life cycle with fluctuations depending on temperatures and other conditions such as moisture.  To prevent maggots from occurring, eliminate odors and reduce their access to the cart.

Avoid maggots in your green organics cart with the following tips:
  • Wrap your meat food scraps and bones in a sheet of newspaper before placing them in your green organics cart.
  • Freeze your meat food scraps until the day prior to your collection day.
  • Put a layer of yard trimmings, food-soiled paper (napkins or paper towels), or baking soda on top of your food scraps.
  • Rinse your organics cart with a mild detergent and water.
  • Keep the cart lid closed.
If you end up with maggots in your green organics cart, the following can help:
  • Spray the top and inside of the cart with vinegar.
  • Cover the maggots with lime, salt, or vinegar.
Tips to Line Your Food Scraps Pail and Other Options for Collection
As detailed above, lining your food scraps pail or collection container with a newspaper or a paper bag are two options. Here are other suggestions for how to collect food scraps:
  • Reuse compostable paper containers for the collection of food scraps and food-soiled paper, such as milk/juice cartons, ice cream cartons, cereal boxes, boxes from deliveries, or paper bags from fast food or other restaurants.  The container and its contents can be tossed directly into your green organics cart.
  • Reuse what comes in the mail to collect food scraps and food-soiled paper, such as newspaper, grocery store advertisements, or credit card applications.  These large pieces of paper make it easy to line your food scraps pail or collect and wrap up materials for the green organics cart.
  • Reuse shredded paper from your home or office as an absorbent.  Mix shredded paper in with your food scraps to help absorb fats, oils, grease, and water.  This also helps prevent the loose, dry shredded paper from falling out of carts during collection and creating litter on streets.
Here’s a tip to help you send even less to the landfill:
  • Place a washable container next to your kitchen sink to collect food trimmings as you cook. It’s also a good spot to scrape food scraps after meals.
  • At the end of the day, toss the food scraps into your green organics cart for composting.
  • Wash the container and place it next to your sink for tomorrow’s food scraps.

Why can't I recycle paper napkins and paper towels in the recycling cart?

Where should I put shredded paper?

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