How to recycle

Pursuant to the County’s three-container system, producers shall place designated materials in designated containers. Producers shall place source separated green container organic waste, including food waste, in the green container; source separated recyclable refuse in the blue container; and gray container waste in the gray container. Producers shall not place materials designated for the gray container into the green container or blue container. The Department or designee shall maintain and make available online a list of acceptable materials for the County’s three-container collection system. (Sec. B11-189.(b))

Producers shall not place prohibited container contaminants in collection containers. Producers shall source separate discarded materials in accordance with the list of accepted materials for the County’s three-container collection system. (Sec. B11-189.(c))

how to recycle where you live

Accepted materials list for residents living in unincorporated areas

Green container

All materials must fit completely inside the container with the lid closed.

Organic waste
Yard trimmings 
  • Branches, ivy and brush
  • Flax
  • Flowers and floral trimmings
  • Grasses, hay and weeds
  • Leaves and tree trimmings
  • Landscape vegetation
  • Lumber (unpainted, untreated) - Tree trunks not exceeding six ( 6) inches in diameter and not exceeding twenty four (24) inches in length; and clean, unpainted and untreated wood no longer than twenty four (24) inches.
  • Shrubs
Soiled paper products
  • Paper bags, napkins, towels, cups and plates
  • Paper coffee filters (no pods)
  • Uncoated paper take-out containers
  • Cardboard and paper, and milk cartons
  • Soiled pizza boxes
  • Soiled food containers
  • Paper take-out boxes and containers
  • Paper tea bags
Food waste (Food scraps)
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meat, poultry, fish, and seafood
  • Grains (bread, rice, pasts, beans)
  • Eggshells
  • Dairy products (no liquids)
  • Coffee grounds

Blue container

Place recyclable materials loose inside your blue recyclable materials cart. All items must fit completely inside the container with the lid closed.

Recyclable refuse
  • Books
  • Cardboard and paper boxes – unwaxed (flattened)
  • Catalogs and magazines
  • Computer paper
  • Construction paper
  • Egg cartons
  • Gift wrap (no metallic/foil)
  • Juice boxes and cartons
  • Mail
  • Milk Cartons
  • Newspaper
  • Paper bags
  • Shredded paper (in clear plastic bag)
  • Baby wipe containers
  • Baskets
  • Coffee-cup lids
  • Coolers and ice chests
  • Crates
  • Food containers
  • Bottles, cups, jars and tubs
  • Buckets
  • Flower pots
  • Plastic 1-7
  • Film Plastic: Bundle in a clear plastic bag and knot the top.
  • Plastic bags (grocery, dry cleaning & shopping)
  • Plastic wrap (bubble wrap, food bags & shrink wrap)
  • Bottles and jars
  • Broken glass
  • Food jars
  • Wine bottles
  • Aerosol cans (empty and non-hazardous)
  • Aluminum foil, foil trays and pans
  • Small and clean (no solvents) auto (car) parts
  • Food and beverage cans and lids
  • Doors and screens
  • Pipes and plumbing fixtures
  • Paint cans (empty, water based only)
  • Pet food cans and lids
  • Screws and nails
  • Tools
  • Toys and sporting goods
  • Umbrellas
  • Utensils
  • Pots and pans
  • Scrap metal
  • Small appliances

Gray container

Place all garbage, non-recyclable inorganic rubbish, textiles, and pet waste in the gray container with the lid completely closed.

*Compostable food wares
  • Compostable bowls
  • Compostable cups
  • Compostable packaging
  • Compostable plastic bags
  • Compostable plates
Green waste
  • Bamboo
  • Cactus
  • Palm fronds
  • Pampas grass
  • Poison Oak
  • Sawdust (bagged)
  • Wood chips
  • Yucca
  • Manure
  • Burlap
  • Carpet and rugs
  • Diapers
  • Downfilled items
  • Fabric (cotton, polyester & wool)
  • Leather
  • Pillows
  • Rubber
  • Shoes
  • Vinyl
  • CDs and DVDs
  • Ceramics Glass cookware
  • Incandescent light bulbs
  • Mirrors
  • Packing peanuts (bagged)
  • Pet waste
  • Polystyrene (Styrofoam ™)
  • Tarps
  • Toothpaste and ointment tubes
  • Video tapes
  • Bathroom waste
  • Straws
  • Chip bags and candy wrappers
  • Foil beverage pouches

Other materials


Please consider reducing waste. For strategies and information regarding reducing waste, please visit or call (408) 924-5453 or (800) 553-8414.

Donate & Reuse

Please consider donating items that are in good condition to a local thrift store or other nonprofit organizations. Visit or call (408) 924-5453 or (800) 553-8414 to learn how to reuse, donate and recycle.

Hazardous Waste

Hazardous Waste cannot go into the green, blue, or gray containers.  Service recipients can schedule a free disposal appointment for household hazardous waste by calling the Santa Clara County Household Hazardous Waste Program at (408) 299-7300 or visit Household Hazardous Waste website.

  • Auto and brake fluids
  • Car batteries (These items may be eligible for collection as bulky items)
  • Cleaning fluids
  • Computers (These items may be eligible for collection as bulky items)
  • Electronic waste (except as listed in recyclables)
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Fluorescent light bulbs (e.g. helium, propane)
  • Grease and cooking oil (These items may be eligible for collection as bulky items)
  • Medications (unused, expired)
  • Mercury thermometers/thermostats
  • Monitors (These items may be eligible for collection as bulky items)
  • Motor oil and oil filters (These items may be eligible for collection as bulky items)
  • Paints and stains (e.g. oil/solvent based)
  • Pesticides and fertilizers
  • Pool and spa chemicals
  • Solvents
  • Syringes/sharps
  • Televisions (These items may be eligible for collection as bulky items)
  • Transmission fluid
  • Treated wood