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Waste Reduction & Recycling
Updated April 2013

Sustainability Best Practice Area

The largest sources of human-generated methane, a potent greenhouse gas, comes from improperly managed landfills. Thus, waste reduction and recycling activities reduce the potential to generate methane at landfills, as well as reducing pollutants generated from transporting waste to disposal sites. Waste reduction and recycling activities also conserve natural resources.



  • Implement a comprehensive waste reduction and recycling program in agency offices and facilities.
  • Create and facilitate an agency employee education program highlighting waste reduction and recycling best practices.
  • Adopt a policy to encourage paper reduction through activities such as:
    • Promoting a “think before you print” campaign.
    • Reducing margins and logos on agency templates, letterhead and memos.
    • Using computer software that removes blank pages and images from documents.
    • Using “eCopy” copy machines that allow users to scan paper documents and distribute electronic copies via e–mail.
    • Uploading bid documents using online resources instead of printing hard copies for contractors.
    • Requiring fewer or smaller-sized copies of project plans or submittals.
    • Establishing a policy to use electronic devices (tablets, computers and projectors) for agendas and notes at meetings, such as for board of supervisor, city council or planning commission meetings.


  • Reuse unwanted printed material for other purposes, such as for scratch paper or shred for use at the local animal shelter.
  • Reuse or redistribute to community non-profit groups office items such as supplies, computer, furniture and cell phones in order to divert items from the landfill.
  • Host a community garage sale or swap meet for the community to sell or redistribute unwanted items.
  • Incorporate reuse programs at publically owned landfills and transfer stations for diverting materials to non-profits.
  • Provide and encourage the use of reusable dishes and drinkware at agency facilities.


  • Adopt a “Buy Recycled” policy for agency departments.
  • Recycle or refill ink/toner cartridges, as appropriate.
  • Provide bins for collection of used batteries and compact florescent lights for proper disposal or recycling.
  • Implement a partnership with other public agency offices located within the jurisdiction for green procurement, waste reduction and recycling at those facilities.
  • Require all agency demolition projects to incorporate de-construction/construction and demolition waste recycling or recovery practices.
  • Adopt agency or community waste diversion and recycling goals that are higher than existing state law.
  • Evaluate current community recycling infrastructure relative to future population growth and waste generation.
  • Include provisions and incentives for new recycling infrastructure and facilities to accommodate growth in land use planning and zoning.
  • Work with solid waste and recycling collection providers to calculate the carbon footprint of collection system.
  • Work with solid waste and recycling collection providers to reduce collection system carbon footprint.


  • Evaluate agency facilities and operations to identify opportunities to increase material recovery and beneficial use of organic material.
  • Evaluate opportunities to convert agency organic waste into biofuels to use in agency vehicles.
  • Distribute or post materials illustrating best practices for organics collection and composting.
  • Establish a program to use the maximum amount of organic waste possible that is generated within the jurisdiction to produce compost for use on agency parks and landscaping.
  • Create a vermicomposting (worm-bin) program with a complementary educational component at agency facilities, such as county detention centers and city jails.
  • Approve siting of composting facility within jurisdiction.
  • Distribute an annual newsletter highlighting agency and community waste reduction programs and accomplishments.


  • Coordinate with the California Department of Resources, Recycling, and Recovery (CalRecycle) on the latest information, resources and programs to assist local businesses. (
  • Adopt a program or ordinance to encourage or require waste audits and waste reduction plans for existing and/or new commercial developments.
  • In partnership with the waste hauler(s) serving the commercial sector, institute a comprehensive waste reduction and recycling program with financial and other incentives, such as a tiered rate system that charges less for collecting recyclable materials than for collecting solid waste, to promote waste reduction and recycling for commercial/industrial waste generators.
  • Adopt a program or ordinance that exceeds state minimum standards by requiring businesses generating less than 4 cubic yards of waste a week to recycle.
  • Work with local material collectors and economic development experts to recruit or retain regional recycling manufacturers.
  • Adopt an ordinance to restrict the use of expanded-polystyrene containers at fast food restaurants and other establishments.
  • Adopt a program or ordinance to restrict the availability of single-use bags at retail stores.
  • Implement a green business program that rewards local businesses for sustainability measures.
  • Implement a food scrap collection program for large food waste generators.
  • Encourage local restaurants to use compostable foodware, where appropriate.
  • Encourage local restaurants to create opportunities and signage that promotes food waste and recyclable collections.
  • Require food waste and recycling at farmers markets and other community events.
  • Require recycling at special events, such as through special event permit conditions.


  • Include information about recycling opportunities on agency’s website.
  • Provide information to residents about how to stop receiving unwanted catalogues, phone books and weekly circulars.
  • Work with landlords to include recycling requirement information in lease agreements and/or move in packets.
  • Adopt a program or ordinance that exceeds state standards by requiring recycling at multi-family housing with four or fewer units.
  • Offer a food waste recycling program to residential customers.
  • Educate residents about the importance of not contaminating recyclable wastestreams.
  • Work with solid waste service providers to adopt enforcement mechanisms for residents and businesses that misuse or contaminate green waste and recycling containers.
  • Offer composting and sustainable landscaping classes to the community.
  • Implement a vermiculture (worm bin) composting program where residents can “check out” or borrow composting bins and equipment from the agency to start their own composting efforts at home.
  • Educate the community about “buy recycled” opportunities.


  • Create a partnership with local schools to help encourage waste reduction and recycling.
  • Collaborate with schools or nonprofit agencies to help develop and distribute educational materials related to recycling and waste reduction for use in classrooms.
  • Encourage schools and other public agencies to use rubberized asphalt pavement for parking lots, where feasible.
  • Encourage schools to use tire-derived products for a variety of uses, including sport facilities.

Electronic-Waste and Hazardous Materials

  • Create and distribute information about e-waste and hazardous waste disposal.
  • Increase opportunities for e-waste and hazardous materials collection and recycling.
  • Distribute information and create opportunities for used motor oil recycling.
  • Promote proper recycling and disposal options for compact fluorescent light bulbs and batteries.
  • Offer disposal options for home-generated “sharps” (needles) and prescription drugs to prevent injuries and contamination of water and wastewater.

Construction Materials and Debris

  • Adopt a program or ordinance to reduce, reuse and recycle community construction and demolition waste.
  • Adopt a “deconstruction” program or ordinance to salvage and reuse materials in all community remodeling projects.
  • Establish a program or ordinance that results in 100 percent recycling of all Portland cement and asphalt concrete.
  • Adopt a policy to require use of rubberized asphalt concrete for streets and roads.
  • Adopt a policy to use recycled asphalt pavement for streets and roads.
  • Adopt a policy to use recycled asphalt pavement for commercial and community parking lots, where feasible.
  • Use recycled tire rubber for playground resurfacing and other projects, where appropriate.
  • Partner with local businesses to create materials reuse opportunities.
The Institute gratefully acknowledges the following individuals who reviewed this best practice area and offered their comments:
  • Chuck White, Director of Regulatory Affairs/West, Waste Management
  • Eli Goodsell, Recycling Coordinator, California State University, Chico
  • Fabian Villenas, Principal Management Analyst, City of Rancho Cucamonga
  • Jillian Rich, Program Manager, Pacific Gas & Electric
  • Steve Rodowick, Recycling Coordinator, County of Butte
  • Tracey Harper, Integrated Waste Management Specialist, CalRecycle

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