Multi-Family FAQs


The Mandatory Recycling Ordinance affects multi-family residential properties with five or more units in the following cities:

  • Alameda
  • Albany
  • Berkeley
  • Castro Valley
  • Emeryville
  • Fremont
  • Hayward
  • Livermore
  • Newark
  • Oakland
  • Piedmont
  • Pleasanton
  • San Leandro
  • Union City
  • Unincorporated areas of Alameda County (except those within the boundaries of the Oro Loma Sanitary District)

Please see the Rules by City pages to find out the rules in your City.

The ordinance also applies to landfills, transfer stations and self-haulers throughout Alameda County.

Please note businesses, multi-family residential buildings and institutions in Alameda County generating four or more cubic yards of solid waste per week must also abide by the Plant Debris Landfill Ban Ordinance.


The following requirements apply to multi-family residential buildings in Alameda County with five or more units located in jurisdictions that have fully opted-in to the Phase 1 and Phase 2 requirements.  Requirements denoted with an asterisk (*) are not required in each participating jurisdiction.  Please visit the Rules by City pages for specific requirements in each jurisdiction.

  1. Provide containers and service of sufficient number, size and frequency for recyclable materials.
  2. New – July 1, 2014! Provide containers and service of sufficient number, size and frequency for organics (food scraps and compostable paper).*
  3. Provide information at least annually to employees, tenants, and contractors describing how to properly use the recycling, garbage, and organics* containers, as well as no later than 14 days after move-in and no less than 14 days prior to move-out.

Property owners and managers are recommended to post prominent signs on or near the recycling and garbage containers clearly indicating which are for garbage and which are for recycling. Use posters or decals that contain drawings or pictures of the materials that go into each container. This helps people understand how to sort the materials properly. Many haulers and cities can provide posters and/or decals that are specific to the materials they accept.

If a multi-family property owner has an agreement with a third party to manage their solid waste collection services, such as a property management company, both parties are responsible for compliance.

Assistance may be available through the service provider or city to help owners of multi-family residential properties ensure that the recycling service and organics service, as well as the information they provide, meets the requirements of the law. To request support, multi-family property owners should contact their service provider or city.


All Alameda County residents are encouraged to recycle and avoid disposing of covered materials in the garbage. Individual residents and tenants will not face any penalties or fines.

If a business or multi-family building is found to be out of compliance with the law:

  • A warning letter will be sent to the property owner; and
  • Free assistance will be offered to ensure that the property owner knows what recyclable materials are covered by the law and any other actions they must take in order to comply.

If the business or property continues not to comply, even after assistance has been offered, the business or property owner may be fined. Additional information on how the law will be enforced can be found in Section 11 of the ordinance.


Yes. Administrative Citation and fines may be issued if a business or property owner is not in compliance (see prior question).

The fine for the first violation will not exceed $500. Fines increase for subsequent violations. For more information, see the Enforcement Overview page.

No fines were issued prior to January 1, 2013, in order to allow all businesses and property owners ample time to bring their buildings into compliance.

Alameda County Waste Management Authority is responsible for enforcing this ordinance and has the active support of all participating cities and the County of Alameda.

Enforcement began on January 1, 2013 for all “opt-in” jurisdictions other than Pleasanton. Enforcement for Pleasanton began on September 1, 2013. Enforcement action related to the requirements of Phase 2 of the ordinance (including expanding covered accounts to all businesses and institutions and adding discarded food and compostable paper to the list of covered materials) will begin on January 1, 2015 in participating jurisdictions.


For FAQs that pertain to all sectors, see the General FAQs page.