In California, recycling and waste management are shared responsibilities between the State, local jurisdictions, and the waste and recycling industry. In light of recent changes to recycling markets, jurisdictions and their industry partners are taking steps to encourage waste prevention, reduce contamination of recyclable materials, and improve postcollection processing. The diversity of responses to National Sword demonstrates the complexity of the problem in California, where recycling and waste management often varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Some material recovery facilities are hiring more workers and slowing down sorting lines to reduce contamination before baling recyclables for export. Jurisdictions are implementing educational campaigns to reduce contamination at the generator-level.


Incentives and Events

  • City of Vallejo has begun the fourth year of their recycling reward program that awards residential and commercial recycling customers a year of free garbage service or a discount for properly sorted recycling and trash bins.
  • StopWaste (Alameda County) is convening a regional task force to share information, plan public outreach responses and produce recommendations for changes to local recycling programs. The task force includes recycled commodity brokers, local haulers/processors, facility operators and government officials. They have released a recycling messaging and graphics bank to help jurisdictions communicate with the public about recycling.
  • South Bayside Waste Management Authority is hosting a “Rethink Recycling Day” and offering facility tours, and other recycling and reuse activities.
  • City of Victorville and Burrtec partner for Victorville Recycles Week to host a school competition that encourages good recycling habits. 

Electronic and Print Resources

  • CalRecycle November 2018 Presentation on Education and Outreach: Examples from across California  (Under Documents section of Public Notice)
  • RethinkWaste in San Mateo County released an electronic guide to help residents and businesses determine what goes in the recycling bin. The guide is available in English and Spanish. Parts of the guide will be used for their upcoming social media and print campaign to get people to “Recycle Right”, as well as reduce their waste.
  • The City of Sunnyvale made a flier addressing the 12 most common contaminants in their recycling stream and information about why those materials are not recyclable.
  • Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority’s Rethinking Recycling Radio discusses recycling and current issues about waste management. 
  • San Luis Obispo County is rolling out a new education campaign in partnership with Cold Canyon Processing facility. Check out the county’s updated recycling guide.
  • Sacramento County published a special insert in local newspapers about residential recycling and contamination in collaboration with major local haulers. They have also started a pilot education program to test new carts and begin contamination education.
  • Mid-Valley Disposal, a hauler in the Central Valley, is altering its educational materials to be more specific as to what materials can be placed in recycling containers to combat contamination. It also addresses National Sword in its quarterly newsletters.
  • The California Refuse Recycling Crisis Media Kit provides informational links to current news and talking points useful to jurisdictions in discussing recycling market changes.
  • In January 2019, The California Refuse and Recycling Council placed an 8-page supplement in the Sacramento Bee about the state of recycling, the need for infrastructure and helpful tips for residents about conscious consumption. 
  • Sonoma County’s 2018 Recycling Guide is an example of free comprehensive recycling guide for residents.
  • Recology initiated a "Better at the Bin" campaign to encourage reduced consumption and better recyclables sorting. They have recently added new tips and videos about reducing plastic waste, food waste and more. 
  • Sonoma County Resource Recovery video introducing their new dual stream recycling cart in Windsor ties the importance of recycling right to current challenges in the recycling industry.


  • San Jose is renegotiating its contracts with solid waste haulers and is exploring methods to encourage residences and businesses to produce less waste. 
  • San Diego’s hauler requests suspension of all revenue payments and charge for materials received from the city instead. 
  • Grass Valley City Council approved an annual rate increase for garbage collection service.
  • City of Fremont increasing residential garbage bills by $1.50 a month to cover additional sorting and processing costs.
  • Nevada City will charge a fee to residents and businesses who receive multiple recycling contamination violations. So far, giving residents a warning has led to a reduction in their bin’s contamination.



Waste Reduction