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How to recycle food scraps at home

Watch the video in Spanish or Mandarin

 Check out our Food Scraps Recycling Hacks

What you need to know

  • Two pre-selected routes serving approximately 4,800 households currently participate in the pilot program.
  • Participants have been notified by mail and received starter kit with educational materials, including:
    • A new split-cart with two compartments (one designated for food scraps and the other for garbage);
    • A kitchen pail to collect food scraps;
    • A starter supply of plastic liners for the kitchen pail. (Note: Any type of clear plastic bag (i.e. bread bag or produce bag) is also acceptable for use after starter supply runs out).
  • The cart is serviced on the residents' regular collection day by a split-body truck to keep garbage and food scraps separate.
  • Rates will remain the same as the standard rates for pilot participants
  • The pilot collection system will be evaluated for convenience and amount of organic material that is diverted from our landfills.

How the pilot collection truck works

You take the time to separate food scraps; the truck keeps it that way!

Why this is happening?

Organic waste accounts for 35% of the materials thrown away in California, and food waste alone accounts for approximately 18%. When disposed of in a landfill food waste produces a powerful greenhouse gas called methane. The State of California has set goals to reduce the generation of greenhouse gases by requiring cities to divert organic waste that goes into landfills. In an effort to meet these statewide waste diversion requirements, the City of Santa Clara will be launching a pilot residential food scrap recycling collection program this fall.

MTWS split cart graphicWhat food scraps are accepted?

  • Meats and bones
  • Seafood
  • Beans and nuts
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Bread, pasta, and rice
  • Eggs, cheese, and other dairy products
  • Coffee grounds/coffee filter and tea leaves/bags

What is not accepted?*

  • Paper products including plates, cups and containers
  • Compostable food ware
  • To-go containers
  • Soiled pizza boxes
  • Paper towels
  • Tissues

*These items should be placed in the garbage side of your bin


Technical assistance: contact our staff at or call (408) 615-3080 with any questions or concerns about the pilot program.

Issues with split-carts: Call Mission Trail Waste Systems at (408) 727-5365 to report broken carts.

Recycling guide: See a list of items that go in your blue recycling cart


  • Is assistance available from City staff?
  • Do Santa Clara businesses recycle food scraps?
  • How should I submit feedback about the program?
  • It looks like the collection truck is mixing garbage and food scraps; what’s going on?
  • My neighbor’s split-cart looks like mine; Are all of the split-carts the same size?
  • Can I opt out?
  • Can I sign up to participate in this pilot program?
  • Will my rates change as a result of this pilot program?
  • Should I use a bag to line the kitchen pail?
  • Why use a split-cart for collecting food scraps?
  • What if I have extra garbage that won’t fit in my cart?
  • Why can’t I put food scraps in my yard trimmings (Clean Green) container?
  • Do I need to use compostable bags to line the kitchen pail?
  • I compost in my back yard; should I still participate?
  • I don’t generate much food waste; why do I need to participate?
  • How does the Sustainable Animal Feed Enterprises (SAFE) process work?
  • Is the final product safe for the animals consuming it?
  • How were the pilot routes selected?
  • Why is Santa Clara implementing a pilot food scraps recycling program?
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