How to Comply with the City’s New Mandatory Organics Recycling Law

November 9, 2021 10:50 AM
by Neal Shapiro

On January 1, 2022, every Californian is required, under SB 1383 and a new local ordinance, to recycle food scraps, along with our yard or green materials, mixed into our green containers. Gone are the days of putting organics in our black trash containers and adding to our state's methane emissions.

Here's what you need to know!

Why the new law? 

While the City sends properly sorted, clean, and dry recyclable materials placed in the blue containers to recycling facilities, the materials discarded in the black trash containers go to landfills and are buried. Over time, most of the landfilled materials, including predominantly food and yard materials or what we call organics, break down and release a gas called methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a major contributor to climate change because it is significantly more potent than carbon dioxide. Therefore, the State of California approved a new law that requires every person in the state to recycle organics into a green container. By diverting organics into our green containers, NOT the black ones, we now will send this valuable reusable resource to a facility which turns it into compost and mulch to revitalize our landscapes and gardens or renewable energy to replace fossil fuel energy. Everyone wins – people and nature! 

How do I get started to meet the January 1, 2022 deadline? 

STEP 1: If you don’t currently have a green organics container (many people do have one already), request one today from the City by emailing recycling@santamonica.govand we’ll deliver one to you at no additional charge. Please provide your name, email address, contact phone number, and your City water, sewer, and trash services utility account number. The person requesting a bin needs to be the account holder listed on the City utility bill of the property receiving the green bin (e.g. property owner, management company representative, condo association board member or equivalent). 

STEP 2: Once the City receives the request from the utility account holder, we will drop off a green container and provide educational materials to guide you on what to and what not to recycle in the blue recycling and green organics containers. 

STEP 3: Once your green container is delivered, now you can begin recycling your organics. Here is how to do it: 

  1. Containers should be out by 7 a.m. on collection day. Please make sure containers are placed net to - not behind - each other. Carts must be placed in a location easily accessible by our automatic collection trucks.  
  2. All organics are welcome in the green container. This means ALL food leftovers and scraps, food-soiled paper products (NO wax or plastic coated), yard cuttings, or green landscape materials. Collect food materials such as vegetable peels, meat, and eggshells in a small pail or bucket inside your home. Pro tip: Keep your food scraps in a reusable bag or container and place it in the freezer for odor control. Ideally, place your organics directly into your container without a liner (no bag). If necessary, use multiple paper bags because food soiled paper bags are also considered organics and are recyclable when placed in the green container. Plastic bags -- including some that claim to be “biodegradable” or “made with recycled plastic” -- are not allowed in the green container. To purchase a kitchen compost pail for $15.30 (Nov. 2021 pricing), please email
  3. Take collected food materials to your green bin every few days.  When ready, dump out the food scraps into your green bin, rinse out the container, and reuse it for the next batch. Place yard materials, shredded paper, or shredded cardboard at the bottom of your green bin before placing food scraps, if possible, to absorb moisture. Layer yard materials or paper with food throughout the week before collection day. Note: Green organics containers are not communal; they are building-specific. If you live in multi-family buildings, including apartments or condominiums, you should find your building‘s green bin where the trash and recycling bins are located. Sometimes that could be the building’s central trash enclosure area inside the parking garage; other times it could be in the alley behind your building. Occasionally, some buildings have chutes on each floor that deposit organics directly to the green bin. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens next? 

The organics Santa Monica collects from you will be converted into reusable products including compost, mulch, or renewable energy to power vehicles and buildings. The compost may actually end up back in Santa Monica at a compost giveaway event or in our parks and roadway medians! 

Be proud of yourself for your recycling efforts, as you are making a difference. By recycling your organics, you are contributing to Santa Monica’s zero waste by 2030 goal and a healthier Santa Monica and California! 

If you have any recycling questions or need recycling educational materials, please contact us at recycling@santamonica.govWe look forward to hearing from you.

Authored By

Neal Shapiro
Senior Sustainability Analyst


Council And Commissions, Programs, Recycling and Trash, Services, Strategic Priorities, Sustainable and Connected, Your City Hall