Your Guide to Compost, Recycling, and Trash

On January 1, 2022 the City of Santa Monica implemented a new law, SB 1383, requiring all people living and working in the city to recycle organic waste (anything that was formerly living).  The City’s zero waste goal is to reduce landfill disposal to 1.1 pounds per person per day (PPD) by 2030. Currently, we are at 3.3 PPD. By separating materials into their proper bins and ensuring that recyclable materials are kept out of landfills we can get closer to reaching that goal.

Printable Zero Waste Guide

If you'd like an easy, printable flyer full of tips on what goes in each container, click here for English or click here for Spanish. We also have in-depth tips below.

What goes in the green container?

  • Yard waste
  • All food scraps including meat, bones, and dairy.
  • Food-soiled paper products including paper plates/bowls, paper towels/napkins, and paper straws.
  • 100% wood or bamboo forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks, and coffee stirrers.
  • Shredded paper

Please do not place metal/aluminum, glass, or plastic in the green bin. The only plastic allowed is a clear plastic bag to place your food scraps in. Pet waste should also not be placed in the green bin, this belongs in your black bin.


  • Choose a container. Examples include a yogurt tub, coffee can, or kitchen pail.
  • Use no bag, a paper bag, or a compostable bag.  A clear plastic bag can be used but is not ideal because it won’t breakdown and will be placed in a landfill.
  • Freeze or refrigerate food scraps until your pick-up day to reduce odor and flies. If you can’t freeze or refrigerate food scraps, empty your container regularly into your green cart.
  • Layer your green cart with yard waste or shredded paper to help absorb moisture.

If you're interested in composting for your own yard or garden please visit CalRecycle's Home Composting page that is full of helpful tips and knowledge.

What goes in the blue container?

  • Clean and dry metal cans
  • Clean aluminum/tin foil
  • Clean and dry glass bottles and containers
  • Clean and dry rigid plastic containers and bottles numbers 1, 2, and 5.
  • Clean and dry mixed paper
  • Clean and dry flattened cardboard boxes


If you collect recyclables in a plastic bag please dump the contents in the blue container and reuse the bag or place it in the black bin.
No food or liquids belong in the blue container ever. Please do not put any soft plastics of any kind such as bubble wrap, chip bags, sandwich bags, tortilla bags, or bread bags as these items get stuck in the machinery at the recycling facility.

What goes in the black container?

  • Pet waste
  • Diapers
  • Sanitary products
  • All soft plastics such as bubble wrap, chip bags, tortilla bags, etc.
  • Ceramics and glassware such as dishes or plates
  • Polystyrene foam (such as Styrofoam)


To help reduce waste going to the landfill use reusable items such as reusable sandwich bags or a metal water bottle. You can also try to fix your own broken items or have them repaired at a Repair Cafe. You should refuse to purchase items that have excessive packaging such as fruit wrapped in plastic. Purchasing 100% recycled items helps reduce waste and increase the lifespan of already made products.  

Hazardous Waste

Household hazardous waste including paints, cleaning supplies, electronic waste, etc. do not belong in any of the three containers. For information on what to do with those items please click the following link. For more information please visit CalRecycle’s Waste Banned From Trash page.

To further reduce your waste you can visit one of our many free recycling events.

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