California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Innovations Case Studies

Summary: City of Riverside

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The City of Riverside, designated an “All-American City” in 1998, is the seat of Riverside County in Southern California. The city, in compliance with the California Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989 (AB 939, Sher; Chapter 1095, Statutes of 1989) met its 1995 waste diversion requirement of 25 percent and its 2000 waste diversion requirement of 50 percent. The city achieved the 50 percent rate five years before the 2000 deadline, and its 1998 diversion rate was 57 percent.

Prior to the passage of AB 939, the city had no municipally sponsored recycling program. After passage, the city took a very proactive stance that concentrated on program development designed to achieve the diversion goals of the act in the most timely and cost-effective manner. Riverside accomplished its goals in a manner somewhat unique in California by initiating its programs with the major material identified in their waste characterization study, namely green waste.

Program Characteristics

The City of Riverside worked closely with Riverside County and the city’s three waste subcontractors in developing a full range of programs to meet its diversion responsibilities. Included in those programs are green and wood waste collection and composting; residential curbside and drop-off recycling; MRF recovery of commercial waste; diversion of concrete and asphalt, white goods and tires; and ordinances.

Local Partnerships
In carrying out its responsibility to divert material from the waste stream, the City of Riverside has cooperated fully with relevant county program efforts and with services offered by its solid waste contractors. This avoids any unnecessary duplication of effort.

In addition, the city supports one-half of a position with the Riverside Chamber of Commerce in the Keep Riverside Clean project. The chamber also cooperates with litter abatement and public education programs.

The City of Riverside is also a member of the West Riverside Council of Governments

Local Policies
The City of Riverside has taken a number of actions to facilitate the processes of waste reduction and recycling. These include:

  • In 1992, shifting from twice-a-week collection of trash to once-a-week collection of trash and once-a-week collection of green waste.
  • In 1994, approving Section 6.05 of the Municipal Code to provide adequate space and access for the separate protected storage and collection of recyclables.
  • Shifting to automated collection to facilitate greater citizen participation in a cost- effective way.
  • Modifying their rate structure to create a disincentive to excessive trash generation.

Source Reduction
The principal program of waste reduction is the backyard composting program run by the county waste management department. The program offers composting workshops, bins, and handbooks to residents.

Curbside Collection of Recyclables
The city developed a fully automated collection system providing weekly service. Although participation is voluntary, all residential units are required to pay the additional fee.

Green Waste
The allowable green wastes are placed in a green automated collection container. The green waste is delivered and tipped at a composting facility at a savings over the trash disposal fee. For the 1998–99 fiscal year, the residential green waste collectors achieved a 42 percent diversion rate resulting in a savings of $856,427. There is also a reduced commercial rate for separated loads of green waste.

Newspaper Drop-Off
The city co-sponsors eight 24-hour drop-off sites for newspapers.

Buyback Centers
As of 1998, there were 116 buyback centers listed for the City of Riverside, including CRV locations, scrap dealers, and used appliance buyers.

Used Oil Recycling
The city lists eight certified used oil recycling locations and engages in public outreach and provision of used oil containers and other promotional items.

Construction and Demolition Recycling
Much of the concrete, dirt and rock, and asphalt generated in the city is diverted to recycling because of county and city actions. The two primary actions increased landfill fees and modified the street rehabilitation project bids. The language requires contractors to use the residue produced from grinding operations or crushing of removed asphalt pavement, as long as the material complies with identified specifications.

White Goods
In addition to the listings for companies that repair white goods, the local utility now contracts with a private company to pick up relevant white goods for removal of freon. Scrap metal companies take non-freon white good for recycling.

Household Hazardous Waste
The city, in cooperation with Riverside County, offers both a permanent drop-off site and periodic mobile collections for a variety of HHW.

Thanks to a “Car Tire Amnesty Program,” city residents are allowed to bring up to four used auto tires to HHW collection events. A company takes the tires collected and recycles them into a crumb rubber product.

Costs, Economics, and Benefits

All activities of the city related to solid waste derive their funding from the Public Works Department budget. The Solid Waste Systems portion of the budget is an enterprise fund. The revenues received into this fund are legally restricted and cannot be used to finance general purpose services. Revenues for this fund are derived primarily from user fees.

The total enterprise budget for 1998–99 was $10,903,263. It was approved for 1999–2000 in the amount of $11,452.09, a projected increase of 5 percent.

The Solid Waste Systems budget is comprised of three main subdivisions—collection, refuse disposal, and private hauler.

This subdivision includes all personnel and non-personnel expenses, equipment outlay, and debt service.

Refuse Disposal
This subdivision is essentially related to the annual costs for monitoring and testing at the closed Tequesquite Sanitary Landfill.

Private Hauler
This subdivision includes non-personnel expenses and special projects. It also covers fees the city pays for private hauler single-family residential waste service, as well as service fees the city collects from residents for payment to the private haulers. Private haulers collecting recyclables from commercial and multifamily residences are allowed to waive the landfill tipping fee as an incentive to the customers.

The budget is relatively stable and noted increases seem to be related to population growth.

Tips for Success

  • Re-examine your waste stream to determine if you are concentrating on the major elements, such as green waste.
  • If you are not already in a regional or subregional grouping, explore your surrounding community for cooperative opportunities to achieve economies of scale and reduce costs.
  • Assess your community in terms of both public and private agencies such as schools, chambers of commerce, etc. with whom you could form alliances to achieve mutually desirable ends.
  • Evaluate your service provider operations and systems and level of customer service to determine if proactive changes are desirable.


Pursuant to contract (IWM-C8028) with the University of California at Santa Cruz for a series of 24 studies and summaries, EMS (Oakland, California) researched and wrote this summary for the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle).

The statements and conclusions in this summary are those of the contractor and not necessarily those of the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), its employees, or the State of California. In addition, the data in this report was provided by local sources but not independently verified. The State and its contractors make no warranty, express or implied, and assume no liability for the information contained in this text. Any mention of commercial products, companies or processes shall not be construed as an endorsement of such products or processes.

Last updated: October 5, 2015
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