Residential Organic Recycling

Get a free kitchen pail for your organic waste

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What's changing for residents?

Starting July 2022, residential garbage and recycling services will include the following changes:

  • Your green yard waste cart will become your “organics” cart and will accept food waste. Food waste no longer belongs in the trash! 
    Organic waste will be collected on a more frequent weekly basis rather than biweekly.
  • New trash (black), recycling (blue) and organics (green) carts will be distributed to all City properties beginning in July through November 2022.  

What are the new resident responsibilities?

Do your part to keep the City of Elk Grove green. Below are the actionable steps you’ll need to take to comply with new recycling requirements in the City of Elk Grove:

Single-Family and Multi-Family Residences

  • Collect food waste and food-soiled paper products separately from trash in your home
  • Dispose of food waste and food-soiled paper products in your green organic waste cart
  • Bagging organic waste is optional. If you do want to bag organic waste, you must use BPI Certified Compostable bags!

Multi-Family Property Managers

  • Educate tenants and employees on organics recycling requirements annually and upon move-in
  • Monitor bins for contamination

What Goes in the Organics Cart?


Dirty Paper

  • Greasy pizza boxes and paper bags
  • Paper coffee filters  
  • Food soiled paper napkins, tissues, and paper towels

Food scraps

  • All fruits and vegetables (pits and shells too)
  • Coffee grounds
  • Dairy products (no liquids)
  • Eggshells and eggs
  • Leftovers and spoiled food
  • Meat (including bones)
  • Seafood (including shellfish)


  • House plants
  • All plant debris including flowers, leaves, weeds, and branches
  • Tree trimmings (less than 6” in diameter and 4’ long)


  • Bags labeled “Compostable” only
  • Cooking grease: Small amounts can be soaked up with a paper towel and composted.
  • Corks (no plastic)
  • Plastic clearly labeled “Compostable”

Unacceptable Items

Place these in your Blue Recycling Bin instead:

  • Aluminum foil or trays
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Metal cans and lids
  • Plastic not labeled “Compostable”
  • Recyclable/clean cardboard or paper

Place these items in your Black Landfill Bin:

  • Composite items made of multiple materials
  • Juice, soup, or soy milk type boxes with foil/plastic liner
  • Styrofoam meat trays or other dirty Styrofoam

These items don’t belong in your green or blue bins but should still be recycled:

  • Batteries: small residential quantities can be recycled
  • Cooking oil: take to Special Waste Collection Center
  • Electronics: contact Republic Services or take to Special Waste Collection Center
  • Hangers: take to your local garment cleaner for reuse
  • Plastic bags and film: recycle clean plastic bags at California supermarkets
  • Styrofoam: take packing peanuts to local shipping store for reuse

Here’s a handy guide for easy reference in the future.

For more in depth information about specific products, please refer to the Republic Services web page.

New Cart Distribution

recycle carts

All carts (trash, recycling, and green yard/organic waste) must conform to and match the color scheme required by state law. Currently, the City’s carts do not conform to this required color scheme. As such, the City and Republic will be distributing new color conforming carts to all City properties beginning in July through November 2022. 

Properties that do not currently have a green yard waste (i.e. organic waste) cart will only receive trash and recycling carts. 

City staff is currently working with CalRecycle and Republic Services to determine how and when properties with space limitations and or no organic waste cart will receive their new Organics Cart. Please note that while properties in these communities may not require a cart for yard waste, a cart for food/organic waste may still be required. 


Elk Grove, new carts are on their way! If you see your neighborhood below, please leave all your carts out on the curb as your cart exchange will occur the same day. Whatever quantity or size carts you currently have will be equally replaced with the new color scheme.

Countertop Kitchen Pails

Kitchen Pail Drive-Thru Event

Saturday, October 15th, 9am-12pm
Special Waste Collection Center, 9255 Disposal Lane

Kitchen pails are funded by a CalRecycle grant and will be of a limited supply. Only one kitchen pail per household.

To register for the October 15th event, please email your name and address to [email protected] to express your interest.

Kitchen pails are now available for pick up on Sundays and Mondays at the Special Waste Collection Center, 9255 Disposal Ln, Elk Grove, CA 95624, open 9am-4pm.

Having a kitchen pail makes it easy to collect your food waste in your home by scraping plates and placing your food scraps and food-soiled paper items into any pail of your choosing. Empty the food waste from the pail into your Organics Waste cart as often as you prefer.

organics pale graphic

You don’t have to use our pail. Containers can be as simple as a Tupperware, a bowl, a paper towel, or old newspaper. You may also purchase specialized kitchen compost containers for your countertop, under the sink, or to hang on your cabinet door.

Counter-top containers can be lined with a paper bag, napkins, or other compostable paper. While not required, you may use BPI Certified compostable bags to dispose of your organic waste. BPI stands for Biodegradable Products institute. These certified plastic bags can be found online or at all major retailers.

Contact Us

We understand that many people will have questions about residential organics recycling. For general questions please reach out to:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (916) 478-2228

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are we now required to separate organics?
The State of California passed Senate Bill 1383 as a statewide effort to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants and help prevent global climate change. It requires all California residents and businesses to separate their organic waste, including food waste and yard waste, from trash so that it can be recycled rather than disposed of in a landfill. Organic materials such as food waste and paper decompose anaerobically (without oxygen) in a landfill, producing methane—one of the most potent greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere. By separating and recycling our organic waste, Californians will be diverting around 300,000 tons of food waste per year from landfills. 
When should I start placing food waste in the yard waste cart? 
Organic waste collection service begins on July 1, 2022. We kindly ask that residents do not begin to place food waste in the yard waste cart until the initial start date, as the liquids and textures that come along with food waste are not conducive to the current waste process. This cart will become the “organics cart” and the contents will be taken to a compost facility for processing. 
How do I separate my food waste? 
The easiest way to recycle your food waste is to keep a bowl or other container close by when cooking. Place all your fruit and vegetable trimmings, peels, stems, meat scraps, eggshells, etc. in the bowl as you go. When you’re done eating, scrape all your unwanted leftovers into the bowl and transfer it all to the organics cart outside. If you prefer to keep a closed kitchen countertop pail in your kitchen, the City is providing free pails while supplies last. The pails are washable and dishwasher safe. 
What about the smell? Will this attract pests or bugs? 
Remember that this material is already in your trash cart, so no new issues should arise. Starting on July 1, 2022, your organics cart will be collected weekly to ensure the contents are promptly and minimize the risk of attracting pests or bugs. 
What if I already have a compost bin at home? Can I be excluded from this? 
No, unfortunately the state law requires mandatory compliance. On the plus side, there are many waste types that should not go into a home composting bin but can be composted through this program including meat, grains, packaged and processed food, and food-soiled paper such as dirty paper napkins. Whatever you do, remember that food waste no longer belongs in the trash as of July 1, 2022 and that disposing of food waste in the trash may result in Contamination Fees and/or fines. 
What if I just refuse to separate my food waste? 
The state has made these requirements mandatory and the City has been mandated to enforce them. Noncompliance, which includes refusing to recycling your organic waste and/or not placing the correct materials in each cart, could lead to code violations. If the City does not enforce these requirements, the City could be subject to administrative penalties of up to $10,000 per day. 
What if I still need more info? 
Please call us! We’d love to help answer any other questions you have. You can contact our residential program coordinator, Nathan Arechiga, at (916) 627-3646.

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