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.
Food scraps include meat and bones, dairy, bread, fruits and vegetables, peels, pits, cobs, coffee grounds, food-soiled paper, paper towels, napkins, and paper cups. 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.
Be sure to check the What Goes Where Guide above to learn what is acceptable. 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.
Why Compost? Keeping organics out of the landfill will reduce methane, a significant greenhouse gas created from decomposing organic wastes in landfills. Landfills are the third largest source of human-caused methane gas. The program is expected to reduce greenhouses gas and produce compost for landscape growers in the Central Valley. Using compost conserves water, prevents erosion, reduces the need for fertilizers, and enriches the soil.
Zero Waste Goals. 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. Currently, the City's diversion rate is estimated at 78 percent. However, food scraps comprise about 35 percent of a household garbage cart.
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. 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 www.mountainview.gov/cartsize.
For further questions, the Recycling & Zero Waste Program staff can be reached at (650) 903-6311 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To order service or cart exchanges, contact Recology at (650) 967-3034 or ContactUsRMV@recology.com.