Organics Recycling FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is food waste (organics) recycling required?

A new California law, Senate Bill 1383 (SB 1383), established a requirement of reducing the amount of Organic Waste (food waste, green waste, paper products, etc.) that ends up at the landfill by 75 percent by the year 2025. Commercial businesses like restaurants and grocery stores have been diverting food waste since 2016.


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What if I do not have a green waste/organics container?

We will schedule to have a container delivered, call (805) 925-0951 ext. 7270.

Why is the Brown lid changing to Green? And why is the Trash lid being replaced?

The State has mandated a green waste/organics container for organics, gray container for trash, and blue container for recycling. This requires the Utilities Department to phase out the old style of containers and transition to this new system. This will be done over the next several months.

I live in an apartment complex.  What about me?

Each multifamily housing property within the City is being assessed individually to determine if a green waste/organics containers can be safely stored and emptied at each location. 

When should I start using my green waste container for food waste? 

Residents can start putting food waste, food soiled paper, and all other organics into their green waste/organics containers at this time.

Will I have a new pickup day, or will the green waste/organics container be picked up more often?

No, your green waste/organics container will be picked up biweekly on the same day that your green waste container used to be serviced, which is the week opposite of your recycling service. Collections Schedule.

If I move, can I take my containers with me?

No, you will need to transfer your service to your new address and containers will be provided for your new address. 

How will this affect my monthly utility bill?

The green waste/organics recycling program is incorporated into your monthly collection rates..

I forgot to put my green waste/organics container out for service.  Now what?

You can place your container out during the next scheduled pickup or you can call (805) 925-0951 ext. 7270 to request an extra pick up for an additional fee.

What can I put in my green waste/organics container?

Everything from the kitchen pail, plus yard trimmings, plants, leaves, branches, untreated wood, flowers, and grass.

What cannot go in my green waste/organics container?

Plastic bags, wraps, pet waste or kitty litter, dirt, liquids - including fats, oils and grease - straws, palms, painted or treated wood, hygiene products (diapers, wipes, sanitary products), hazardous waste, and of course, trash.

How do I keep my green waste/organics container clean?

  • Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of the green organics container prior to filling it. Add a cap full of Simple Green into an inch of water at the bottom of your container prior to using it.
  • Use the news! Spread a thin layer of newspaper between layers, or wrap your food scraps in newspaper or paper towels is easy and helps keep your container clean. 

How can I avoid the food waste attracting animals and insects to my green waste/organics container?

Always keep the lid of the green waste/organics container closed. Put some yard trimmings, such as leaves, in your green waste/organics container prior to adding food scraps to help keep it clean. Place the green waste/organics container out for collection every other week for service, even if it is not full. Lightly rinse your green waste/organics container as needed, emptying the rinse water onto your lawn and not in the street where it can pollute waterways.

Will the food scraps make my green waste/organics container smell?

It will not smell more than trash containers because it will hold the same type of material. However, to reduce odors, keep the lid closed and rinse regularly.

What if I already compost my food waste and/or generate little to no food waste?

You can continue to compost food waste in your home or on your property. The City’s program will accept other organics that are not recommended for backyard composting, including clean wood waste, larger branches, food soiled paper, and certain food wastes that can attract vermin. While these are not recommended for backyard composting, they will be processed for composting by the City’s contractor. SB 1383 requires the City to collect all organics, not just those that can be recycled in backyard composting. As such, these residents will also require green waste/organics collection services from the City.

How can I receive a kitchen pail?

One kitchen pail is available per household. Participants can pick up a kitchen pail at the Utilities Administration Building at 2065 East Main Street (Santa Maria Regional Landfill) Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. No appointment necessary.

What can I put in my kitchen pail?

Whatever you are putting in your green waste/organics container can go in your kitchen pail. This includes fruit and vegetables, raw and cooked food scraps, meat and bones, fish and shellfish, cheese and dairy, eggs and eggshells, bread and cereal, grains and rice, coffee grounds and filters, and tea bag contents.

What cannot go in my kitchen pail?

Plastic bags, wraps, plastic straws, liquids, and coated paper.

How do I keep my kitchen pail clean?

Sprinkle baking soda in your kitchen pail to reduce odors. Keep the lid of the pail closed and empty your kitchen pail into your green waste/organics container regularly. Rinse your kitchen pail each time you empty it; kitchen pails can be washed with dishwashing soap or put in the dishwasher. You can also keep your kitchen pail in your refrigerator or freezer to minimize odors.

Can this program save me money?

  • Helps save costly repairs due to clogged drains and sewer lines
  • Garbage disposals waste a lot of water and energy
  • Disposals contribute to expensive, clogged sewer pipes on your property and in your neighborhood. Along with fats, oils, and grease, they cause sewer backups.

Where can I find more information?

Updates will be added as the program is further developed. If you would like information on SB 1383 regulations and statewide resources, you can find it at CalRecycle’s website.

What should I do if I want to report a violation of the SB 1383 regulation? Report it online using this form.