Enforcement Overview


Alameda County has two recycling ordinances that are mandatory.

The first is a Mandatory Recycling Ordinance that requires recycling and composting service for certain businesses, institutions and multi-family buildings sufficient to handle the amount of recyclables and organics (food scraps and food-soiled paper) they produce. The other is the Plant Debris Landfill Ban Ordinance. It applies to certain businesses and institutions and requires plant debris be separated and composted.

The purpose of these ordinances is to reduce the amount of easily recyclable and compostable materials deposited in landfills from businesses, institutions, multi-family properties and self-haulers. The ordinances are designed to help Alameda County reach the long-term goal of reducing waste by ensuring that recyclables and compostables make up less than 10 percent of material sent to landfill by 2020.


recycling-icon  Mandatory Recycling Ordinance (ACWMA Ordinance 2012-01)

In 2012 Alameda County adopted the Mandatory Recycling Ordinance which prohibits the disposal of certain recyclable materials and requires businesses and institutions with 4 or more cubic yards of garbage service per week, and multi-family properties with 5 or more units, to have recycling service. The recycling service must be sufficient to handle the amount of recyclables generated at that location. It is prohibited to dispose of materials covered by the ordinance, including cardboard, newspaper, white paper, mixed recyclable paper, recyclable glass food and beverage containers, metal (aluminum and steel) food and beverage containers, and PET (#1) and HDPE (#2) plastic bottles which could otherwise be recycled. These requirements became effective July 1, 2012, and enforcement began January 1, 2013. The full text of the ordinance can be found here.

Effective July 1, 2014, Phase 2 of the ordinance expands its requirements to all businesses regardless of garbage service level, and requires that food scraps and compostable paper be recycled through organics collection service under certain conditions in certain jurisdictions. Enforcement related to Phase 2 requirements begins January 1, 2015, for participating jurisdictions. For more details about the compliance requirements for any one jurisdiction, please see the Rules by City pages.

It is the responsibility of businesses, property owners, and managers to ensure compliance with the law.

The Mandatory Recycling Ordinance is enforced through a routine inspection program. On a rotating basis, inspectors are dispatched to business properties to inspect the garbage, recyclables and, if required, the organics collection containers. The inspection is brief, taking about five to ten minutes and may occur without notification to the business or property owner depending on the time and circumstances of each location.

plant-debris-icon  Plant Debris Landfill Ban Ordinance (ACWMA Ordinance 2008-01)

Alameda County law prohibits disposal of plant debris in county landfills. ACWMA Ordinance 2008-01 (available for download here) requires landscape professionals, residents and businesses to separate all plant debris from garbage. Those subscribing to 4 or more cubic yards of weekly on-site garbage service must place plant debris in the designated “organics” bin, and those who haul to their local facility must deposit plant debris in the disposal facility’s designated “clean green” area. Plant debris includes grass, leaves, shrubbery, vines and tree branches.

This law applies to any person or organization generating significant amounts of plant debris that hauls the material to Alameda County disposal facilities or places the material in bins for collection, including:

  • Commercial and institutional (e.g. colleges, hospitals, park districts, golf courses) customers subscribing to 4 or more cubic yards of weekly solid waste collection service.
  • Landscapers and gardeners
  • Municipalities

The Plant Debris Landfill Ban Ordinance covers all cities and unincorporated areas in Alameda County.