Zero Waste

What is Zero Waste?

Zero waste is a new approach to waste management and the use of resources. It goes beyond the “end-of-the-line” treatment of waste and promotes not only the three “R’s” (reduce, reuse, recycle), but also focuses on a “whole system” approach to the use of resources including composting and conservation (rot, restore). The City is currently implementing a Zero Waste Plan with the goal of diverting 90% of waste from the landfill by 2030.


In June 2018, the City Council adopted a Zero Waste Policy establishing a goal to divert 90% of waste from the landfill by 2030. Following in September 2018, the City Council approved a consultant contract to prepare a Zero Waste Plan in support of the Policy.  The completion of the plan was being done in advance of updating the City’s current collection, processing and disposal agreements, all of which expire at the end of 2021.  The plan identifies future programs and actions the City can take to reach its Zero Waste goals. 

At the Zero Waste Workshop on March 4, 2019, the City provided information about our current achievement of 78% diversion of waste from the landfill, and presented the results of the latest Waste Characterization Study.  The City asked participants to identify the policies, programs and infrastructure needed to achieve the City's goal of 90% waste reduction and recycling by 2030. 


Development of a Zero Waste Plan is a multi-year effort and is undertaken in preparation for new collection, processing, and landfill service agreements.  

Before a plan can be developed, a study of the community's waste is undertaken to identify opportunities to divert waste from the landfill by new or enhanced waste reduction, reuse, recycling, composting programs.  Such programs conserve landfill space and natural resources while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Mountain View has made significant diversion progress.  In 2006, Mountain View diverted 72 percent of the community's waste away from landfills. The current diversion rate is 78 percent.  We have a little further to go to meet our 90 percent goal.  There are other factors affecting the City's ability to meet this goal.

market value

Some wastes are problematic or have little to no market value.  Mountain View's trash is sorted to ensure that recyclables are diverted from the landfill and to test-market low or no value materials.  Strict new recycling standards from export markets are also having an impact and require all of us to recycle correctly.  See the Dirty Dozen for more information.

State Legislation Needed

State legislation is needed where the City does not have direct control. Changes are required in private-sector practices related to product design, purchasing, use, and “end-of-life” management, whether voluntary or in response to State or national regulatory mandates.  These changes are already beginning to happen (for example recent California legislation requiring manufacturer responsibility for paint, mattress, and carpet recycling and disposal) and the Zero Waste Policy calls for City support of additional legislation and other actions that can result in this “producer responsibility." 

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