Frequently Asked Questions About Business Recycling Requirements


Q: Why a Business Recycling Ordinance?

A: State law (AB 939) requires that 50 percent of waste generated must be reduced or recycled. For ten years, franchised commercial waste haulers have been required to recycle 30 percent of what they collect. The current commercial recycling rate is estimated to be only 15 to 20 percent. Almost all homes now have a recycling program available, but only one in five businesses have a similar program, We need much more recycling from the business community. For these reasons, SWA has adopted a new Business Recycling Ordinance.

Q: Who is responsible for keeping recyclables separate from garbage?

A: Whomever contracts for garbage collection, business owners and/or non-residential property owner, are responsible for having a recycling service and/or program. Each business - whether stand-alone or restaurant, manufacturer, building owner, or office building tenant - is responsible for keeping recyclables separate from the garbage in the workplace. Building owners in multi-tenant buildings must make sure housekeeping services collect recyclables separately from regular garbage throughout the building.

Q: Who is required to recycle?

A: All businesses and non-residential properties (who subscribe to four (4) cubic yards a week or greater of garbage collection service per week) are required to have a recycling program.

Q: What does this mean for my business?

  • A: Businesses are required to keep such items as cardboard, office paper and beverage containers separate from the garbage.

  • Businesses must post signs and place recycling containers in work areas.

  • Businesses must have separate and labeled collection containers for recyclables.

  • Simple employee training about the recycling program is required.

  • Businesses must arrange for collection of their recyclables by using a Franchised Hauler, and Authorized Recycler, or by hauling the recyclables to a recycling facility.

Q: Will the ordinance increase my costs?

A: Administration of this ordinance will be funded through the existing SWA commercial hauler franchise fees. Some businesses may actually save on their garbage bills when they recycle, because less garbage is collected, which requires smaller dumpsters. Collection service providers may also sell the recyclable materials, passing the savings on to their business customers. Businesses have service options to choose from to meet their recycling need and are encouraged to contact the different service providers for the best price.

Q: How do we set up our recycling program?

A: Each business must prominently post signs and provide labeled recycling containers so employees and customers know what and where to recycle. Good places to post recycling notices include copy rooms, mail rooms and break rooms. Placing recycling containers next to garbage bins will reduce contamination. Refer to the guidebook How to Have an Effective Business Recycling Program for more information.

Q: What else can we recycle?

A: Visit or www.cityofsacramento/utilities for other recycling ideas and disposal opportunities in Sacramento County. You may also check with your recycling service and search the Business Yellow Pages for a list of other private vendors who recycle toner cartridges, wood pallets, furniture, computers, fluorescent lamps, or other materials you may generate in large quantities.

Q: What if I am a tenant in a building that is not providing a recycling service?

A: Business owners and/or non-residential property owners, whomever contracts for weekly garbage collection, are responsible for having a recycling program. If you don't believe that your building business owner and/or non-residential property owner is recycling, please call the Environmental Management Department at 916-875-8550 to request literature or file a complaint.

Q: I have a food and beverage service establishment. Do my customers have to recycle too?

A: All food and beverage services (including office building cafeterias) must recycle employ aluminum and steel cans and beverage containers; all colors of glass food and beverage containers; empty plastic food and beverage containers #1-#7, including water bottles; and all cardboard boxes from the kitchen and service areas. If your customers routinely clear their own tables, you must provide clearly labeled recycling containers where customers can place recyclable items.

Q: Do my customers have to recycle if I am not in the food or beverage business?

A: In any business where customers or clients regularly discard designated recyclables, you must provide a way for them to recycle. Post notices and place labeled recycling containers near garbage bins in customer areas, same as for your employees. For example. customer recycling bins should be provided in a copy shop where customers commonly throw away white office paper.

For more information about Business Recycling, email​