Three-Cart System

As part of its ongoing sustainability efforts, Costa Mesa Sanitary District (CMSD) is implementing a residential three-cart curbside collection program! This new system is customer friendly, increases diversion from landfills, promotes source separation and will meet State regulatory requirements.Currently, 39% of all waste within CMSD’s service area is sent to the landfill. With the new three-cart system, CMSD aims to reduce this to 25%.

On January 23, 2023, CMSD’s Board of Directors approved an amendment to the solid waste agreement with CR&R Incorporated, establishing the three-cart waste collection system. This amendment is one step among many in CMSD’s compliance with Senate Bill (SB) 1383, a statewide effort to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants. Learn more about SB 1383.

Starting on October 7, 2024, there will be some changes in how customers sort their waste and in how CMSD’s waste hauler, CR&R, collects and processes organic and recyclable materials.

Image: Currently, 39% of all waste within CMSD’s service area is sent to the landfill. With the new three-cart system, CMSD aims to reduce this to 25%.

What does this mean for you?
CMSD is partnering with CR&R to provide safe and reliable curbside collection services for customers. Here's what you can expect with the three-cart implementation process: 

Between October and December of 2024, one of your existing Mixed Waste Carts will be removed and replaced with a new Recycling Cart with a blue lid, while the other remaining Mixed Waste Cart will be relabeled to become a Landfill Cart designated for non-recyclable items such as Styrofoam, pet waste, diapers, and palm fronds.
The new Recycling Cart will be designated for recyclables such as clean paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum and tin cans, and plastic. You will continue to dispose of organic waste in your existing Organics Cart with a green lid.


Request Your Preferred Cart Sizes
To submit a request for your preferred cart sizes, please complete CR&R's online survey.
Town Hall Meetings

Costa Mesa Sanitary District will be hosting a series of town hall meetings to share information on CMSD’s transition to a three-cart waste collection system and address any questions you may have. The meetings will be held on the following dates:

  • August 7, 2024 at 6 p.m. – CMSD Headquarters (290 Paularino Ave., Costa Mesa) 
  • August 10, 2024 at 9 a.m. – CMSD Headquarters (290 Paularino Ave., Costa Mesa)
  • October 2, 2024 at 6 p.m. – Norma Hertzog Community Center (1845 Park Ave., Costa Mesa)
  • October 5, 2024 at 9 a.m. – Norma Hertzog Community Center (1845 Park Ave., Costa Mesa)
Please RSVP using the form below:

Three-Cart System Flyer (English) | Three Cart System Flyer (Spanish)|Three-Cart Announcement Postcard|CMSD Recycles Postcard|Partners in Sustainability Postcard|Three-Cart Sorting Flyer (English & Spanish)

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are the requirements changing?
CMSD is required to transition to a three-cart system as a result of State legislation, Senate Bill (SB) 1383. A focus on recycling organic materials is central to the State's efforts to combat climate change. When organic materials such as food scraps and yard trimmings decompose anaerobically (without oxygen) in a landfill, they produce methane, which is one of the most potent climate pollutants in the atmosphere and a major contributor to climate change. In addition to requiring organic material recycling, SB 1383 requires jurisdictions with a two-cart system to transition to a three-cart system if their waste is not processed at a high diversion waste processing facility. The CMSD Board elected to move forward with a three-cart system since upgrading the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) that processes CMSD's waste would be cost-prohibitive.
What should I expect from the rollout of this new system?
  • Between October and December of 2024, CR&R will exchange one existing Mixed Waste Cart with a new 95 gallon blue-lid Recycling Cart.
  • The remaining Mixed Waste Cart will be relabeled to become a Landfill Cart of the same size.
  • The first recycling collection will be one week after delivery of the new Recycling Cart.
  • The green-lid Organics Cart(s) will be left in place and continue to be used for green/yard waste and food waste.
What is included in my service?

Standard curbside collection service will include:

  • One Recycling Cart
  • One Landfill Cart
  • Up to two Organics Carts
Each cart will be available in any of the following sizes: 35-gallon, 65-gallon, or 95-gallon.

Customers can request a second Landfill or Recycling Cart or a third Organics Cart (subject to additional fees of $9.00 per cart per month).
When will the new system begin?
The new three-cart system will roll out between October and December of 2024. The cart replacements will vary by neighborhood, but will occur on your regular weekly trash collection day.
How do I select the cart size and quantity I want?
All customers were mailed a postcard survey asking them to confirm the cart sizes they wish to receive by June 30, 2024. Cart size options include 35-gallon, 65-gallon, and 95-gallon. Additionally, customers will be able to submit requests for alternative cart sizes and additional carts (which are subject to additional fees) any time after the system rollout. 
If I request a different cart size after the start of the rollout on October 7, will my request be fulfilled during the rollout?
No. Any cart size requests submitted after the rollout begins will be fulfilled after the rollout is complete. Other cart exchange requests, such as replacing damaged carts or missing carts will be fulfilled before and during the rollout.
How do I know what sized carts I currently have?
To confirm your current cart sizes, please contact CR&R at (949) 646-4617 or Most residents have the standard cart size of 65-gallons (medium), unless you've requested a smaller cart (35-gallons) or have an old 95-gallon Mixed Waste Cart. The cart dimensions are as follows: 95-gallon (43"Hx29"Wx35"D), 65-gallon (42"Hx25"Wx32"D), and 35-gallon (39"Hx20"Wx25"D).
What if I don't have room for three carts?

All customers were mailed a postcard survey asking them to confirm the cart sizes they wish to receive during the new system rollout by June 30, 2024. Customers have the option to choose from three cart sizes (35-gallon, 65-gallon, and 95-gallon) to best accommodate their disposal needs and space constraints.  Additionally, customers will be able to submit requests for alternative cart sizes any time after the system rollout. 

Most customers currently have a total of four carts: two Mixed Waste and two Organics Carts. Therefore, the transition to a three-cart system will likely result in less total carts (one Recycling, one Landfill, and one Organics Cart) or the same total number of four carts (one Recycling, one Landfill, and two Organics Carts).

What items are acceptable in my Recycling Cart?
  • Aerosol cans (empty)
  • Aluminum and tin cans
  • Aluminum foil
  • Cardboard (flattened)
  • Clean paper (computer, white, colored, shredded, newspaper)
  • Detergent containers (empty)
  • Glass
  • Plastics (numbers 1 - 7)
  • Metal
  • Milk containers
Dirty items should be rinsed and then placed directly in your Recycling Cart. Keep it loose; recyclables should not be bagged.
What items are acceptable in my Organics Cart?
  • Bread, rice, grains, pasta
  • Coffee grounds, tea and coffee filters
  • Compostable and brown paper bags
  • Cooking oil and grease
  • Dairy products (cheese, eggs, milk, yogurt)
  • Food scraps and unwanted leftovers
  • Food-soiled paper (used napkins and paper towels, greasy pizza boxes)
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Grass clippings
  • Leaves and flowers
  • Meat/poultry*
  • Prunings and weeds**
  • Seafood*
  • Snack foods (chips, nuts, crackers, etc.)
*Please do not place meat or fish bones in the Organics Cart. Those belong in the Landfill Cart!
**Palm fronds should be placed in the Landfill Cart rather than the Organics Cart.
What items are acceptable in my Landfill Cart?
  • Broken glass/mirrors
  • Diapers 
  • Fish and meat bones
  • Flexible packaging (such as candy wrappers, chip bags, plastic bags, plastic film, drink pouches, etc.)
  • Meat and fish bones
  • Mixed products (plastic & metal combination)
  • Non-numbered plastics
  • Palm fronds
  • Pet waste and cat litter
  • Plates and cups
  • Styrofoam
  • Other landfilled and non-recyclable materials
What is organic waste?
Organic waste is any material that is biodegradable and comes from either a plant or an animal. Biodegradable waste is organic material that can be broken into carbon dioxide, methane or simple organic molecules.
Where will organic waste go?
After organic waste is collected, it is sent to a local composting facility or an Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Facility, where it is turned into Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) to power CR&R's collection vehicles. 

Recovered organic waste products can:
  • Benefit local communities and spaces
  • Improve soil and air quality
  • Support local environmental initiatives, such as Climate Action Plans
CalRecycle assigns an annual procurement target to each jurisdiction based on its population. Jurisdictions can fulfill their target by procuring any combination of the following recovered organic waste products:
  • Compost
  • Mulch
  • Renewable Energy (Transportation Fuel, Heat, and Electricity) from Anaerobic Digestion and Electricity from Biomass Conversion
Each jurisdiction has the flexibility to choose what mix of recovered organic waste products it wants to procure, and may choose to either use or donate these products to meet its procurement target, depending on its local needs. Per CalRecycle, these procurement requirements will strengthen California’s green, self-sustaining economy. Demand for these products will drive infrastructure investment and create new green collar jobs in the state.
Are we required to buy compostable bags for the Organics Cart?
Purchasing compostable bags is not required. Green waste and food waste can be placed directly into the Organics Cart (unbagged), or residents can use brown paper bags, such as those given away at some grocery stores.
Am I required to participate? What if I don't change anything about how I dispose of my trash?
Yes, everyone is required to participate and properly sort discarded materials into the correct carts. If you choose not to participate, you may receive contamination charges. The State of California has mandated that beginning January 1, 2024, jurisdictions must issue Notices of Violation and fines for residents and businesses who are not participating.
Will recyclables actually be recycled?
Recyclables that are relatively clean and placed in the blue-lid Recycling Cart will be recycled. The primary barrier to recycling is contamination. If recyclables are placed in the incorrect cart or heavily soiled by organic waste, they are no longer recyclable. 
Are lockable carts available to residents to prevent scavenging?
No, lockable carts are no longer available for any of the three cart types. If residents notice scavenging activity, please report details to Code Enforcement or submit a request at
Can residents have two 35-gallon carts in lieu of one 65-gallon cart of any type, without being charged extra?
Yes. Having two 35-gallon carts in place of one 65-gallon cart will not incur an additional fee of $9.00 per month. The additional fee will only apply to a second (or more) 65 or 95-gallon Recycling or Landfill Cart, or a third (or more) 65 or 95-gallon Organics Cart.