Oakland Recycles - Your Recycling Team

Laws & Rules

What every business and residence needs to know about city, county and state laws and regulations.

Mandatory Weekly Recycle, Compost, and Trash Removal

Oakland Municipal Code Chapter 8.28 mandates all businesses, multifamily properties and single family homes subscribe to weekly recycle, compost, and trash collection that matches waste generation levels.

  • All recycle, compost and trash discards must be stored in a watertight container(s) of sufficient size and capacity to hold all material between weekly service.
  • It is unlawful for any person to put waste from their business or home in, on top of, or alongside the street litter containers placed in the sidewalk area. Street litter containers are for use by pedestrians depositing small waste carried by them (OMC 8.29.160).
  • It is unlawful for any person to illegally dump or improperly dispose of waste matter (OMC 8.11.310). City, County, and State law mandate waste is sorted properly into recycle, compost, and trash containers.

These codes and laws exist to minimize litter and maximize the use of natural resources and reduce methane emissions that occur when organic material like paper, food scraps, and plant debris are buried in a landfill.

State and Local Recycling and Composting Laws

State law SB 1383 requires everyone in California to keep organic waste like food, plant debris, and cardboard out of the landfill.  The City of Oakland’s 2030 Equitable Climate Action Plan establishes reducing organic material headed to landfill by composting organic waste and increasing the recovery of edible food as key strategies to minimize the acceleration of climate change.  

Alameda County Waste Management Authority will take a lead role in Oakland to enforce compliance with SB 1383 and their Organics Recovery and Recycling Ordinance (ORRO).  Full information on requirements for compliance with ORRO can found here along with resources to help you comply.  

Basic ORRO compliance requirements for businesses/multifamily properties:

Your site must: 

  1. Subscribe to curbside compost and recycle collection service in addition to trash.
  2. Place color-coded and labeled compost and recycle containers next to all indoor trash containers (excluding restrooms).  
  3. Sort materials into the proper carts/bins.  
    1. Compost: Food scraps, compostable paper, and plant debris
    2. Recycle: Cardboard, paper, bottles, and cans 
    3. Trash: Do not place trash into the compost or recycle carts/bins 
  4. Educate employees, contractors, tenants, and students about the law at least annually.  
  5. Periodically inspect bins and provide feedback to employees and contractors about incorrectly placed items. 
  6. Commercial property managers: Inform tenants no later than 14 days after move-in and at least 14 days prior to move-out about the rules. 
  7. Some businesses that generate surplus edible food—such as grocery stores, food distributors, and large restaurants—must have a written agreement with a food recovery organization or service to donate edible surplus food to feed people. 

Tools to Help You:

  1. Contact WMAC to set up trash or compost collection and visit our list of recycle service providers.
  2. Watch a short how to video on setting up compost and recycle containers in your business, use the indoor bin setup guide to assess internal container needs, and request free indoor compost containers.
  3. Request free posters and container decals at oaklandrecycle@oaklandca.gov or create custom signage. Post signage above containers, guiding users on what goes where.
  4. Share this training video at least annually or when on-boarding new staff.

Learn more about edible food recovery requirements and find tools to help with compliance if this requirement applies to your business.

Single Use Disposables at Restaurants

Disposable Food Accessories Upon Custom Request

Beginning June 1, 2022, restaurants may only offer disposable food accessories upon customer request – even for takeout and delivery orders per AB 1276.  The goals of the law is to minimize the volume of straws, cutlery, condiment packets, and other disposable accessories that go unused, clog California landfills, contaminate recycling processes, or become litter that pollutes our streets and waterways.

See the full AB 1276 text and list of compliance requirements.

For more information about ways to reduce single-use, disposable food ware, please visit StopWaste’s disposable food ware information webpage.

Acceptable Food Service Ware for Restaurants

Reusable food service ware is strongly encouraged for environmental, health, and cost benefit.  If your business chooses to provide single use disposables, Oakland Municipal Code Chapter 8.07 requires they must be biodegradable or compostable. Paper based products are encouraged as bioplastics do not decompose at the compost facility. For more information about ways to reduce single-use, disposable food ware, please visit StopWaste’s disposable food ware information webpage.

Report Illegal Dumping

Report illegally dumped debris, an active dumper, or ongoing improper use of a street litter receptacle to Environmental Enforcement Officers.

Report Illegal Dumping