Reduce methane emissions from landfills

Alameda County, CA has two recycling ordinances that are mandatory. Both limit the amount of organic material deposited in landfills by requiring diversion to composting facilities thus reducing methane emissions that arise from the anaerobic decomposition of organic waste.

The first ordinance is a Mandatory Recycling Ordinance that requires recycling and composting service for certain businesses, institutions and multi-family buildings sufficient to handle the amount of recyclables and organics (food scraps and food-soiled paper) they produce. The other is the Plant Debris Landfill Ban Ordinance. It applies to certain businesses and institutions and requires plant debris be separated and composted.

The purpose of these ordinances is to reduce the amount of easily recyclable and compostable materials deposited in landfills from businesses, institutions, multi-family properties and self-haulers. The ordinances are designed to help Alameda County reach the long-term goal of reducing waste by ensuring that recyclables and compostables make up less than 10% of material sent to landfill by 2020.

Alameda County Waste Management Authority (ACWMA) Mandatory Recycling Ordinance 2012-1 requires businesses, institutions and multi-family properties with five or more units to sort their recyclables from their trash. Multi-family property owners as well as businesses and institutions that generate food waste, such as restaurants and grocery stores, must also sort compostables from their trash. These requirements are effective within participating areas of Alameda County. The ordinance requires the recycling service to be sufficient to handle the amount of recyclable material as well as the composting collection service to be sufficient to handle the amount of food scraps and food-soiled paper generated at the location. This includes cardboard, newspaper, white paper, mixed recyclable paper, recyclable glass food and beverage containers, metal (aluminum and steel) food and beverage containers, PET (#1) and HDPE (#2) plastic bottles, food scraps and compostable paper.

ACWMA Plant Debris Landfill Ban Ordinance 2008-01 requires landscape professionals, residents and businesses to separate all plant debris from garbage. Those subscribing to 4 or more cubic yards of weekly on-site garbage service must place plant debris in the designated “organics” bin, and those who haul to their local facility must deposit plant debris in the disposal facility’s designated “clean green” area. Plant debris includes grass, leaves, shrubbery, vines and tree branches.

Goal: Reduce methane emissions by reducing organic waste deposited in landfills

Measurement: Number of customers in compliance, tons of organic waste diverted from landfill

Time to Implement: The joint powers authority, StopWaste, initiated the ordinance in 2010 and conducted an Environmental Impact Report Prior to adoption in 2012


Alameda County Recycling Rules

Alameda County Ordinance 2012-1

Additional Information:

Costs for countywide implementation (population 1.7 million): Hard Costs $728,000, Labor Plus Overhead Costs $1,313,089 for Total Cost $2,041,089 (fy 2018-2019)

California Senate Bill 1383, approved by the Governor in 2016 with an effective date of January 2022, is a statewide organics and recycling law. Senate Bill 1383 supersedes the existing Alameda County Mandatory Recycling Ordinance.

Contact Info:

Rachel Balsley
Senior Program Manager | StopWaste
(510) 891-6524

Sectors(s) Waste
Date First Adopted 2008, 2012
Last Updated February 22, 2019
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