Food Scraps Composting Program

Food Scraps Composting

Why compost? Composting your food scraps and food-soiled paper reduces landfill greenhouse gas emissions, which are the third largest source of human-caused methane gas emissions, and gives these valuable resources a second useful life as compost for landscape growers. Using compost conserves water, prevents erosion, reduces the need for fertilizers, and enriches the soil. The City of Mountain View is implementing a Citywide food scraps collection program to reduce emissions, recycle valuable organics, and meet the City's Zero Waste goal of diverting 90% of wastes from the landfill.

A new State law (SB 1383) aims to reduce the amount of organics sent to landfill by 75% from 2014 levels. SB 1383 requires cities to adopt an ordinance or other enforceable mechanism to implement the regulations by January 1, 2022. In December 2021, the City Council adopted a new ordinance mandating organic waste disposal reduction. All residents and businesses are now required to separate organics out of the trash. Food scraps collection is being expanded to include all homes and businesses. Residents who already have compost carts at their homes (see how to participate below) should begin, or continue, to separate all food and food-soiled paper out of the trash and place it in the compost cart along with any yard trimmings.

 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 pizzeriaboxes (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 is called compost or organics. Use compostable bags, newspaper, or paper bags for bagging food scraps to absorb liquids and keep things clean.  No plastic bags or "compostable" plastic food ware

  See What Goes Where.



  • Residents with curbside cart service (individual carts for single-family or small multi-family complexes) should compost food scraps with yard trimmings in their compost (formerly yard trimmings) cart. Compost carts are collected weekly. Sign up here or contact Recology at (650) 967-3034 if you are a new resident with curbside service and would like to request a kitchen pail kit or compost cart if you do not already have one. RESULTS! Since the food scraps program was implemented at all residences with individual carts in July 2017, participating neighbors have reduced their trash by 5-30% (map).  

  • Residents with shared trash bin service with compost carts already on site can compost food scraps with yard trimmings in the complex's compost carts once City staff confirm the carts are, or can be, brought to the curb weekly for collection. If your complex has a compost cart, check with your property management to see if your complex is already participating in the program.  If not, ask your property manager to contact to get started.                             
  • Residents with shared trash bin service without compost carts on site can email to check the status of composting program implementation at their complex. City staff and Recology are currently working to add complexes to the program for compliance with the new City mandatory organics ordinance and SB 1383 regulations.
  • All residents can drop off their food scraps for free at the Mountain View Recycling Center located at 935 Terra Bella Avenue. Sign up is required. See the How To Guide for the drop off program here.

Fight Food Waste

While composting your food scraps is important, the best thing to prevent waste is to reduce the amount of food that you throw away. According to the EPA, food waste is the largest component of waste going into municipal landfills. Fight food waste by planning your meals and buying accordingly. Check out these food storage and prep tips to save food (and money) from being thrown away.


Thinking about "downsizing" your trash cart and compost cart?  The 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 mobile home 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
What Goes Where