Frequently Asked Questions for Single Family Residents
Can I compost large tree branches and stumps by using the Recology organics cart?
Recology can accept small branches of (up to 4 inches in diameter) in the compost program. If branches are longer than 4 feet, please cut them into shorter lengths so they fit inside the green compost cart and the cart lid can be closed. There are also weight limits that apply to the carts, so please be sure that your 96-gallon compost cart does not exceed 335 pounds or 224 pounds for a 64-gallon compost cart.
Materials collected are brought to the Shoreway Environmental Center, where they are loaded into long haul trailers and sent to composting facilities for processing.
Thick branches (more than 4 inches in diameter) and tree stumps are not accepted in the compost program because they can damage the processor's equipment and do not break down quickly enough in the composting process.
Branches that are more than 4 inches in diameter can be taken through the Bulky Item Collection in bundles or boxes. Bundles should be less than 5 feet long and 2 feet in diameter, but if placed in boxes, no longer than 3 feet. Bundles or boxes should weigh less than 60 pounds each.
If you prefer to have thick branches and tree stumps chipped, the County of San Mateo RecycleWorks provides a list of local arborists that offer this service.
For more information on this and other reuse and recycling options, please visit RecycleWorks.org.
Why are there are so many more trucks on the road now?
Why does the other side of my street get serviced later in the day than my side?
Can I use compostable bags to line my kitchen pail?
The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) must approve the bags. They can be found at Costco, Whole Foods, Mollie Stones, some Safeways, CVS and Walgreens, among others. However, there are many others that can be ordered online or found at some stores. Find a full list on the Biodegradable Products Institute's website. Of course, you don't have to use compostable bags. You can continue to use newspaper, paper bags or paper towels to line your pails and collect food scraps. Check out our Composting Tips page for more helpful information.
Why can't I put plastic bags in the blue Recycle Cart?
In addition, plastic bag recyclers require the bags to be clean in order for them to recycle them. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to keep them clean in a curbside program, and the majority would get disposed of as garbage even if they were put in with the recycling.
We encourage you to not use plastic bags if possible, but if you do, the best way to recycle them is to take them to grocery stores that accept them. You can find a list of participating stores on our Hard to Recycle page.
How do I recycle materials that can't go in the blue cart?
How do I place my carts for service?
Place your carts curbside in the street, with the wheels against the curb and the arrows on the lid pointed toward the street. If you live on a street without a curb, place them roadside. Place each cart 24 inches, or 2 feet apart, all facing the same direction.
How do I get a bigger/smaller cart?
How much is it for an additional Recycle or Compost cart?
What do I do about large items I want to get rid of but can't fit into my cart?
What should I do with old paint and other hazardous waste?
Several communities within the SBWMA service area now have a Door to Door Hazardous Household Waste program offered at no extra charge. Visit RethinkWaste for more information.
Will you recycle my used motor oil? What about batteries and cell phones?
What do I do with old medications? Can I throw them away?
What should I do with my old computer or TV?
GreenCitizen also recycles televisions, computers, printers, computer peripherals and a wide variety of other electronics. Everything is recycled in the United States, so there is no shipping of electronic waste overseas, and they have the e-steward certification! See a full list of what Green Citizen recycles.
We strongly urge donating old items that you no longer want to organizations that can use them. Please visit the Don't Toss it page for a list of organizations.
What should I do with Styrofoam?
Can I use plastic bags in my Recycle or Compost cart?
Composting seems like such a hassle. Do I have to do it?
How do I get a kitchen pail?
Do I set my kitchen pail out curbside?
What are the dimensions of the 20, 32, 64, and 96 gallon carts?
*20 and 32 gallon carts do look very similar in size, however, the 20 gallon cart has an in-mold volume reducer to diminish its capacity.
Someone is stealing my recyclables. What do I do?
Atherton Police Department
Belmont Police Department
Burlingame Police Department
East Palo Alto Police Department
Foster City Police Department
Hillsborough Police Department
Menlo Park Police Department
Redwood City Police Department
San Carlos Police Department
San Mateo Police Department
San Mateo County Sheriff's Department
What do I do about the raccoons that are getting into my carts?
Try any of following to keep raccoons at bay:
- You can repel raccoons with cayenne pepper, which is found at just about any grocery store. Raccoons have a highly sensitive sense of smell and strongly dislike the scent - they will usually avoid it as much as possible. Sprinkle ground cayenne pepper on top of or around your cart.
- You can also make a homemade liquid repellent. Boil a quart of water, 1/3 cup of cayenne pepper, and a diced jalapeno pepper for about 20 minutes. Cool and strain, then pour the mixture into an empty spray bottle and spray around your cart.
- Commercial organic raccoon repellent products are available for purchase at some pet stores and online. Sprinkle the granules around your carts to keep them away.
- Sprinkle the top of your carts with baby powder, or even sand. Raccoons don't like the feel of dust on their paws and might avoid the area if they detect any around.
- Try using motion sensors that activate lights to scare them off.
Raccoons are intelligent animals. If they're unsuccessful at the first attempts to get food at a particular location, they will most likely stay away and look for other sources. Remember to please be careful with raccoons. They can be dangerous if provoked and often carry diseases. Never approach one for any reason. Harming or trapping a raccoon is both illegal and unacceptable.
How do I pay my bill?
The holidays are over. What do I do with our old tree?
Please make sure trees are 8 feet and under. If it's taller than 8 feet, cut the tree into lengths of 8 feet or less.
What can you do for my neighbor who doesn't speak English?
I'm elderly and cannot set my carts out for service on my own. What can I do?
Recology also offers a regular Backyard Collection Service for any resident who does not wish to bring their carts out for service. Recology will make arrangements to service the carts from a mutually designated area for an additional fee, dependent upon the distance and elevation from the curb.