woman placing vegetable peels in recycling containerOrganics Recycling Program

Launched on June 22, 2015, the Costa Mesa Sanitary District's (CMSD) Organics Recycling Program was the first of its kind in Southern California. This curbside residential collection program is designed to recycle organic waste through state-of-the-art anaerobic digestion technology, which converts organic waste into compost and renewable naturel gas (RNG). CMSD's solid waste customers can recycle organic and compostable materials like yard trimmings (green waste) and food scraps by simply placing them in a curbside Organics Cart that is collected on a weekly basis. After going through the anaerobic digestion process, the resulting compost is given away to CMSD residents through an annual Compost Giveaway and the RNG is used to fuel CR&R's collection fleet. Included in CMSD's standard solid waste services are two (2) 64-gallon Organics Carts and two (2) 64-gallon Mixed Waste Carts. While the Mixed Waste Carts are used to collect recyclables and landfill trash, the Organics Carts collect organic yard waste and food scraps.

The decision to provide an Organics Recycling Program stemmed from the passing of AB 1594 into law, which mandates that green waste used for Alternative Daily Cover (ADC) at landfills will no longer receive diversion credits as of January 1, 2020. State law requires local agencies to divert at least 50% of solid waste from landfills, and many agencies previously relied on ADC diversion credits to meet this mandate. Up until the COVID-19 pandemic, CMSD had long exceeded the 50% diversion mandate. During the pandemic, diversion dipped to approximately 50% and the District continues to maintain a goal of diverting 75% of its solid waste away from landfills as a result of the Organics Recycling Program. This program keeps organic waste out of local landfills, which extends the useful life of landfills and prevents the release of harmful greenhouse gases that come from decomposing organic waste.

What Goes in the Organics Recycling Cart?trash container

Yard/Green Waste

  • Grass clippings
  • Flowers
  • Leaves
  • Prunings
  • Weeds
Kitchen/Food Waste

  • Bread, grains, rice
  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Coffee grounds, tea & filters
  • Dairy products (cheese, eggs, milk, yogurt)
  • Snack foods (chips, nuts, crackers)
  • FOG (fats, oil, and grease)
  • Brown paper bags
  • Certified compostable bags

What Does NOT Go in the Organics Recycling Cart?

While the following materials are organic, they should not be placed in the Organics Recycling Cart because they are not easily broken down during the anaerobic digestion process and they do not add nutritional value to the resulting natural gas and compost:

  • Palm fronds (since palm fronds tend to be dry and stringy in texture, they can clog the anaerobic digester)
  • Pet waste
  • Bones from meat and fish
  • Compostable foodware (plates, cups, utensils, napkins, etc.)

To learn more about CMSD's Two-Cart Recycling System, view the bilingual English/Spanish flyer below:


Additional Resources

Questions or Requests?

If you have any trash related questions or requests, please use the following resources:

  • For service requests, such as reporting a missed pickup or requesting a large item pickup, please submit a request online.
  • To find answers to commonly asked questions, please visit our Organics Recycling FAQs page.
  • If you're unable to find an answer to your question, please contact District staff at (949) 645-8400 during our business hours or email us.