Curbside Food Scraps Program & Multi-Family Pilot


Why Compost?  Keeping food scraps and food-soiled paper out of the landfill reduces greenhouse gas emissions and gives these valuable resources a second useful life as compost for landscape growers. Landfills are the third largest source of human-caused methane gas.  The program is expected to reduce greenhouses gas and produce organic compost for landscape growers in the Central Valley. Using compost conserves water, prevents erosion, reduces the need for fertilizers, and enriches the soil.

Help the City meet its Zero Waste Goal.  By adding food scraps and food-soiled papers in the compost cart, residents can help the City achieve its Zero Waste goal to divert 90 percent of wastes from the landfill and reduce landfill emissions. Food scraps comprise about 35 percent of a household trash cart. Getting food and food-soiled paper out of the trash and into the compost helps increase the diversion rate. 

RESULTS! Since the food scraps program was implemented citywide in July 2017, participating neighbors have reduced their trash by 5-30% (map).  A pilot for large multi-family complexes is underway, and any resident may take their food scraps to the Mountain View Recycling Center.  

What are Food Scraps? Food scraps include meat and bones, dairy, bread, fruits and vegetables, peels, pits, cobs, coffee grounds, food-soiled paper, paper towels, napkins, paper cups, paper egg cartons and pizzeria boxes (no frozen or refrigerated food boxes). When placed in the compost cart (formerly called yard trimmings), the combination of yard trimmings, food scraps and food-soiled papers are called "organics" or "compostables" interchangeably, but we will simply call it compost. Use compostable bags, newspaper, or paper bags for bagging food scraps.  No plastic bags are accepted, nor are "compostable" plastics "PLA" cups and foodware. 

Note:  other cities may accept plastic bags in their food scraps program because their end product, animal feed, is a different process than composting.  In contrast, those same cities do not accept food-soiled paper towels, napkins or paper plates like we do.  What is accepted in any recycling or compost program depends on the end market.

See table below for program sign-up options.


Subscribed to
Curbside Service
(Individual Carts)

Subscribed to
Curbside Service
(Individual Carts)
Subscribed to
SHARED Containers
All Residents
Trash And you use a trash CART

And you use a trash CART        

And you use a trash BIN
(metal dumpster)
 All Residents
Homes Single-family homes, rowhouses,
townhouses, mobile homes
Duplexes, Triplexes, Fourplexes Generally, complexes of
5 or more dwelling units
 All Residents

Already included in
trash rate

Already included in
trash rate 

No Cost - Pilot No Cost - Pilot

Sign Up! 

Read (1) below,
then sign up

Read (1) below,
then sign up

Read (2) below,
then sign up

Read (3) below,
then sign up



(1) Curbside Food Scraps Program Eligibility

  • For properties with 1-8 dwelling units subscribed to curbside service (individual trash carts)
  • Single-family homes, rowhouses, townhomes, mobile homes subscribed to curbside service
  • Small multi-family complexes (2-8 units) also subscribed to curbside service (individual trash carts)
  • Started citywide in July 2017, the program added weekly collection of compost carts (formerly called yard trimmings).  There were no other changes to collection of trash (weekly) or recycling (every other week). 
  • The program cost was included in curbside cart utility rates starting July 1, 2018 (increase was $1.65 for 32-gallon trash subscribers).
  • If you are eligible to participate in the Curbside Food Scraps Program, please sign up here.
  • Use this How to Guide for Homes after you sign up.

(2) NEW!  Multi-Family Food Scraps Program Pilot Starts October 2018

  • For properties with 9 or more dwelling units subscribed to shared trash bins
  • Includes apartments, condominiums, and large multi-family complexes (9+ units) subscribed to shared trash bins
  • Pilot is being implemented in October 2018 to determine feasibility and establish costs and rate.
  • If you received an invitation, letter, or newsletter to join the large Multi-Family Pilot, please sign up here.  Expansion of the pilot will be considered by City Council in early Fall 2019.
  • If you are interested in being part of the pilot or expansion, please contact Public Works at (650) 903-6311 or  Then we will email or mail you a How to Guide for MFD Pilot.
  • If your complex has carts marked "yard trimmings," "compostables," or "organics," please do NOT put any food scraps in the carts until a program is established, collection routes are adjusted, and a rate to cover the cost is established by City Council. 

(3) NEW!  Mountain View Recycling Center (MVRC) Food Scraps Pilot Starts February 2019

  • For residents only who have signed up.
  • Located at the Mountain View Recycling Center (only during Buy-Back Hours from 9 am to 4 pm when attendant is present).
  • Must use compostable bags to contain spills (no plastic bags).
  • Must hand the compost bag to the attendant (they will verify you signed up or provide application).
  • Sign up here.  Use this How to Guide for the MVRC Pilot.


Keeping food scraps and food-soiled paper out of the landfill reduces greenhouse gas emissions and gives these valuable resources a second useful life as compost for landscape growers.  

After collection of your compost cart, the materials are transported to the SMaRT Station in Sunnyvale for grinding.  (The SMaRT Station is a cooperative joint venture to process and transfer materials between the cities of Mountain View, Palo Alto and Sunnyvale.)  The materials are then transferred to Recology's compost facility in Gilroy, California. 

The materials are spread into long rows ("windrow") piles to decompose over 12 weeks (compared to 8 weeks for yard trimmings).  Microorganisms break down the materials and heat the pile to very high temperatures.  In about 3 months, the microorganisms transform the piles into an earthy, soil-like material called compost.  The compost is used for many different landscape applications.  Finished compost suitable for home landscaping projects is available to residents at the SMaRT Station.

What about compostable plastic foodware?  Choose paper cups and plates over compostable "plastic" PLA cups and other foodware.  Unfortunately, compostable plastics do not biodegrade in the 12 weeks time that makes composting economically feasible, and therefore compostable plastics are not accepted in Mountain View's compost program.  Our processors produce a certified organic compost product.


Although the Curbside Compost Program began in July 2017, rates were not increased until July 2018.  Because curbside compost carts contain food scraps which decay over time, carts must be collected weekly, and Recology must add more collection routes (drivers and trucks). Processing costs have also increased because composting food scraps takes 12 weeks compared to 8 weeks for yard trimmings. The amount of rate increase in July 2018 was about five percent or $1.60 per month for 32-gallon trash service.

Remember, the curbside service trash rate is a "bundled" rate and includes the collection and processing of all individual carts (garbage, recycling, and compost), as well as street sweeping, three free On Call Plus clean up appointments, household hazardous waste events, confidential shredding events, home compost workshops, access to the Mountain View Recycling Center and the SMaRT Station buy-back and drop-off services, utility billing and many more services that residents have come to enjoy.


Thinking about "downsizing" your trash cart and compost cart?  The new food scraps program and weekly collection service might cause you to think about doing so.  Before making a request to exchange your trash or compost cart for a smaller size, think about how fall leaves and holidays may impact your needs!  Here are some tips:

Compost Cart.  Residents should wait to request a smaller compost cart size until they have experienced the food scraps program and know what size compost cart they need.  Fall leaves and holiday food scraps may fill your cart! Although there is a 24-gallon compost cart size available, it is in limited supply and reserved for residents in rowhouses, townhouses and mobilehome parks, or for those who are seniors or disabled.  There is no separate charge for this cart--collection and processing is included in the bundled trash rate.

Trash Cart.  Similarly, residents are encouraged to wait a few months before requesting a smaller trash cart size; but new residents, seniors and disabled persons may request changes at any time.  Important:  Choose a cart size that is large enough for your weekly household trash, including extra capacity for holidays, family celebrations, non-recyclable online shipment packaging, and household projects throughout the year. Remember, the goal is to reduce waste, but preserve enough capacity for extra trash (and avoid the inconvenience of having to buy an extra garbage sticker).  For more information about which cart size is appropriate for your household, visit

more information

For further questions, visit the links below or contact Recycling & Zero Waste Program staff at (650) 903-6311 or  To order service or cart exchanges, contact Recology at (650) 967-3034 or

Where to Buy Compostable Bags
How To Guide for Homes Only
How to Guide for Apartments Coming Soon
What Goes Where
What Goes Where App Link