More than half of school waste can be diverted from the landfill by recycling, reuse, composting, and waste reduction methods. The City provides free recycling, but it is important to recycle right to prevent contamination that may result in the recycling being landfilled and charges on the school's utility bill. Composting services are charged at a reduced rate.

As of 2019, all of Mountain View's 13 public schools currently have recycling collection and 9 have compost collection service.  Overall, the City's public schools have an average diversion rate of 38% (based on service volumes).  Improving each school's recycling and composting performance; and training students, faculty and staff is a top priority for our community. 

However, schools require on-going dedicated technical assistance, which is addressed in the City's Zero Waste Plan. This plan helps the City balance and prioritize the 38 initiatives for all sectors of our community to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions.  It is a multi-year effort.

Zero Waste Plan 2019

For the school initiatives, the first phase of the Zero Waste Plan occurs in the 2020-21 school year with outreach to all school districts and private schools.  The City, working with school facilities staff, will assess current efforts and develop a school plan to ensure that any programs implemented are sustainable (e.g. materials accepted and an education plan). This is best done at the beginning of a school year. The second phase of the City's Zero Waste Plan in 2021-23 is full implementation of the program at all district and private school sites in the fall of the school year.

Implementing School Initiatives 

During implementation, the City works with the district and school administration because they are the account holder (bill payer) and have vendor agreements that may need to be adjusted.  The district and school administration in turn work with their vendors for cafeteria service and supplies to make sure that the purchases are compatible with items accepted in the City's composting and recycling programs. 

The plan also includes the City or its collector educating students, teachers, and facility staff at the start of the school year.  School green teams can help students sort during lunch time or at school events.  Teachers can incorporate environmental curriculum throughout the school year.  Facilities staff troubleshoot contamination problems and re-educate teaching staff and students.

Again, the optimum time for implementation is the start of a school year because it is a significant undertaking to implement services and educate students, teachers and staff. To set up or change composting or recycling services, have the school facility staff contact Recology at (650) 967-3034 or for technical assistance.


New for 2019! 
School posters for recycling, compost and trash are available from the City at recycle@mountainview.govPlease note the compost poster may only be used if composting services have already been implemented (there is a charge for compost service).


End-of-Year Clean-Out

At the end of the school year, we can help set up "clean out" services for teachers and facility management or provide referrals for handling the school's e-waste. The City's exclusive hauler provides all hauling services, including roll-off boxes for construction or yard waste, which are also recycled at the City's SMaRT Station. For more information, please contact Recology at (650) 967-3034. 


  • Clean Paper or Newspaper
  • Glass Bottles and Jars 
  • Aluminum and Metal Cans and Lids
  • Plastic Bottles, Jugs and Tubs only.  No caps, lids okay.
  • Beverage and soup cartons for products such as juice, milk, soy and grain milk, box wine, cream, egg substitutes.
  • Cardboard (empty and flattened).  No plastic packaging or straps.
  • No Plastic Bags or Wrap

Food Scraps (Composting)

  • Food scraps and food-soiled paper
  • Pizzeria Take-Out Boxes (no frozen food boxes)
  • Food-Soiled Paper
  • Paper plates, napkins, paper cups, paper towels (no facial tissues)
  • Fast food paper boxes and napkins (no plastic straws, lids, sauce packets) 
  • Paper egg cartons
  • No Plastic of any Kind

Trash (Landfill)

  • "Compostable" plastic-like foodware
  • "Compostable" plastic-like cups (e.g. marked PLA)
  • Paper contaminated with paint
  • Frozen Food Boxes (pizza, butter, cream cheese, meals)
  • Styrofoam (polystyrene foam products or packaging, e.g. foam egg cartons or packaging blocks)
  • Plastic Bags & Wrap
  • Frozen Food Cartons
  • Plastic Cups / Straws
  • Any recyclable still wrapped in plastic bags or wraps like newspapers, magazines, junk mail, cushioned mailers, tyvex envelopes, or cardboard soda cases.

School Environmental Education Links

K-12 Education for Teachers

Books for Preschoolers:

  • Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel and Alexendra Colombo
  • Why Should I Recycle by Jen Green
  • The 3 R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle by Nuria Roca
  • The Day the Trash Came Out to Play by David M. Beadle