California trash pickup is very important and in Cali authorities and citizens pay special attention to keeping the environment clean. One of the few tangible perks of paying property taxes is that your trash gets hauled away on a routine schedule every week.
Nobody really likes to pay taxes yet most of us appreciate the convenience of a weekly trash pickup service making our trash bags disappear on a predictable schedule.
California’s Trash Pickup Rules
The public works in your city likely has three different designations for your trash: plain old trash, recyclable materials like cans and plastic bottles, and green waste materials.
Trash Vs. Recyclables
Trash is what you might expect and includes food waste like cups, napkins, orange peels and spent coffee as well as things like paper towels and orange peels.
Other things like dry, clean paper, magazines, post-it notes and junk mail are actually considered recyclable paper materials that should go into the recycling container. Generally you can recycle:
- Milk jugs
- Clean paper
- Glass bottles
You can even earn money back via the California Refund Value amount by recycling eligible plastics, glasses and aluminum products through local recycling centers. There are over 2,000 recycling centers dotted throughout the state of California, and many municipalities in California actually will pickup your recycling containers once per week, if you’d rather go that route.
What You Can’t Recycle
What you need to bear in mind is that some items that seem like a no-brainer for the blue recycling bin might actually be non-recyclable since they’re soiled (trash) waste. Things like oily pizza boxes can’t logistically be properly recycled, so those belong in the trash bin instead of the recycling one.
You also can’t pop any broken glass, hazardous materials (e.g., batteries and pesticides) or even soiled diapers into the recycling bin. Although there’s still usable plastic and paper in soiled diapers, it simply would be too difficult for recycling centers to take what they needed and, ahem, dispose of the rest.
The same goes for most tires, construction debris, hoses, products made from concrete, and the electrical cords that snake through your home. These should be put in the trash or disposed of properly in accordance with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control’s policies.
Hazardous waste is probably dangerous for you to handle without the proper equipment and often poses environmental and public health dangers as well. Because hazardous waste has four components to it that pose dangers - namely, its ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity and, of course, its toxicity – you need to be extra careful around hazardous materials like certain paints, pesticides and oils.
So, What’s Green Waste?
Green waste is actually the biodegradable waste that comes from gardens and parks. Things like grass and hedge trimmings as well as other domestic waste that’s high in nitrogen and biodegradable – i.e., materials that can be broken down naturally and don’t pose an environmental danger like the hazardous waste mentioned above.
Three Colors: Three Types of Waste
Usually, you can expect a weekly pickup of your trash, recyclables and green waste to come once per week. And just so that we’re all on the same page, trash is normally in a brown barrel, recyclables should be put in blue barrels marked with the recycling logo and green waste should go into, appropriately enough, green barrels.
You should have your waste sorted in the appropriate colored container and by the curb ready for pickup in the morning. Just bear in mind that sometimes your recycling pickup day is a different one from your regular trash pickup day. In California, you can call 311 for municipal services in your area, and for larger projects you can call Junk King.