California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Innovations Case Studies

Summary: City of Thousand Oaks

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The City of Thousand Oaks is a model of a suburban community in Ventura County, California, meeting the requirements of the California Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989 (AB 939, Sher; Chapter 1095, Statutes of 1989). The city has achieved a 58 percent diversion rate, according to its 1998 Annual Report to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle).

Summary of Programs

The city implements a variety of programs through its franchise haulers for both the residential and commercial sector (see insert):

  • Residential. The city now provides curbside collection of mixed recyclables and yard trimmings to all residents. The city is recovering 50 to 60 percent of the residential waste stream collected at the curb.
  • Commercial. The city now offers recycling service to all commercial businesses and charges at a rate that is only 30 percent of the cost of a trash bin. The program includes economic incentives for customers to meet a 25 percent recycling rate and the exclusive franchise hauler is required to achieve a 30 percent recycling rate on average for all accounts.
  • Temporary Bin Service. The city provides economic incentives for its non-exclusive franchise haulers to achieve a 30 percent diversion rate.

The city has implemented a number of innovative programs:

  • Electronics Recycling. The city held its first collection event in January 2000, recovering more than 26,000 pounds of materials.
  • Neighborhood Enhancement Program. Groups of 15 or more residents can sign up for the city’s neighborhood enhancement program that provides free bin service.
  • Electric Mulching Lawn Mowers. The city has a program to take back and recycle operable gas-powered lawn mowers properly drained of gas and oil.  Customers receive a rebate on a new electric mulching mower.
  • Recycled Product Procurement Policy. The city’s procurement policy requires that the city purchase certain types of recycled products, including a variety of paper products, trash liners, and printer cartridges. The city has also purchased recycled building materials for its city hall and local parks as well as re-refined oil for its fleet of 350 vehicles.
  • Rubberized Asphalt Concrete. Since 1992, the city has extensively used paving materials made of rubber from discarded tires. To date, the program has used rubber from 1.3 million discarded tires to resurface 130 miles of surface streets.

Source Reduction Programs

  • Home composting workshops
  • In-office source reduction
  • Public education materials

Recycling/Composting Programs

  • Residential curbside (recyclables and yard trimmings)
  • Commercial collection
  • Residential/commercial diversion incentives
  • Hauler diversion requirements/incentives
  • Bulky item/neighborhood cleanup
  • Christmas tree collection/drop-off
  • Computer equipment drop-off event
  • Various countywide programs
  • Toilet rebate program

HHW Programs

  • Household collection events
  • Motor oil collection sites
  • Small quantity generator collection events

Education and Outreach Programs

  • Waste reduction guide
  • Hotline
  • Brochures/flyers
  • TV/Radio
  • Lawn mower rebates
  • Wastewatch awards

Market Development Programs

  • Procurement policy
  • Green building materials
  • Re-refined oil
  • Rubberized asphalt concrete
  • Ventura County Recycling Market Development Zone

Costs, Economics, and Benefits

The city’s franchise agreements establish the rates for collection in the residential and commercial sectors. As part of those agreements, the city provides a number of requirements and economic incentives to encourage increased diversion, including:

  • Discounts for residential “Super Recyclers.”
  • Discounts and account incentives for commercial recycling.

  • Diversion requirements for the commercial franchise hauler.

The city’s franchise fees fund other city-operated programs. The city’s annual budget for the past several years has averaged approximately $800,000 per year.

Tips for Replication

  • Allow new programs to be implemented in phases to allow the public to be involved in the planning and implementation.
  • Try to maintain flexibility in program services in order to address inevitable complaints when services change.
  • Recognize that recycling programs will continue to evolve over time, as technologies and markets or uses for products improve. Curbside recycling programs in particular have expanded dramatically over the past decade in the scope and nature of the materials collected.
  • Provide a variable rate system to give the public an incentive to recycle, but recognize that the system may need to be kept simple to administer.
  • Use economic incentives that are structured to provide rewards to ratepayers, haulers, and the city if goals are met.
  • Work closely with other communities, regional agencies, and counties in order to provide more promotional and technical support for their programs than they could obtain individually.


Pursuant to contract (IWM-C8028) with the University of California at Santa Cruz for a series of 24 studies and summaries, Californians Against Waste Foundation (Sacramento, CA) 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.

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Last updated: October 5, 2015
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