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Mandatory Commercial Recycling

Since September 1, 2003, the County has had a mandatory recycling program for businesses in the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County. Recyclables such as cardboard, glass, metal, paper, and hard plastics, are prohibited from trash disposal.

Under the County's Mandatory Commercial Recycling Program, the following materials are not allowed to be thrown in the trash:

  • Aluminum foil and pie plates (free of residue)
  • Cardboard
  • Glass containers
  • Metal (e.g. cans, pots and pans)
  • Mixed paper, including magazines, envelopes, and junk mail
  • Newspapers
  • Paperboard (e.g. cereal and tissue boxes)
  • Hard plastics numbers 1 through 7 (no Styrofoam)

Tetra-pak (look for wording on package) or aseptic containers, such as milk, juice, and soup containers and cartons, can also be recycled in your commingled recycling containers and should not be thrown in the trash. Please make sure that the containers are empty first!

Options to Comply with the Disposal Ban

Your business can either:

1. Contact your waste hauler to order recycling service or

2. Complete and submit an Exemption Request.  Upon receiving this information, we will schedule a site visit with you to confirm the situation cited on the form.  After the site visit, we will send you a letter or email message, confirming your compliance or that a waiver/exemption has been approved. 

Compliance and Enforcement

Waste hauler drivers will conduct periodic checks of a business's recycling containers for contamination.  If a recycling container has an estimated 25 percent or more trash, then the driver will notify the office after documenting responses to the following questions:

  • Does the business have recycling containers?
  • Are the recycling containers being used?
  • Does the business need more recycling containers?

The office will then call you to verify the existing service levels, remind you of the materials that can be recycled, and advise you that continued non-compliance may result in the levying of a non-compliance fee.

Every effort will be made to address any difficulties that you might be having.  If, however, after several conversations and meetings, you still do not have a recycling program or your recycling containers contain 25 percent or more trash, then the County will contact you a final time to verify your  understanding of the program and to inform you about the repercussions of not participating or fully complying.

Non-Compliance Fee

If you refuse to recycle, have not obtained a waiver/exemption from the County, or have unacceptably high levels of contamination in your recycling containers, then the County will send a letter notifying you that a non-compliance fee of 20 percent of your trash bill will be imposed.  The County will then direct the applicable waste hauler to impose the non-compliance fee on your next trash bill.

If you subsequently comply with the requirements of the program, then the County will advise the applicable waste hauler to rescind the non-compliance fee on your next trash bill.

Appeal Process

If you are denied a waiver or exemption, you will be mailed a letter (Notice of Determination) notifying you of the denial.  You may appeal the decision by requesting an administrative hearing within 10 working days of receiving the Notice of Determination.  The Director of the Public Works Department (or his/her designee), who will serve as the hearing officer, will hear the appeal between 20 and 45 days after the receipt of the request.  After the hearing, the hearing examiner shall uphold, overturn, or modify the initial determination of the County. The County will subsequently send a letter formally notifying you of the decision.

Where can I find more info for local businesses?

Check out the following links for additional resources on business recycling and waste reduction:

If you have any questions concerning the County's mandatory commercial recycling program, please call (805) 882-3624 or send an email message to our staff.