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Green Cart Recycling

Green cart recycling is the unsung hero of recycling programs. By following the do’s and don’ts of your community’s green cart recycling program, you will play an important role in diverting these materials from the landfill and help create either mulch or compost instead! Check out the info below to learn more on what can and can't go in your green cart, which depends on where you live and work. In some areas of the County, you should put more than just yard waste in your green container!

Green Cart Recycling

If you are located in the unincorporated Lompoc or Santa Maria Valleys, including Los Alamos, Vandenburg Village, and Orcutt:

All organic waste should now go into your green container! Organic waste includes all food scraps, food-soiled paper, and wet paper products along with yard waste. Everything placed in your green cart is made into compost at a local facility and then used in local agriculture.

What can I put in the Green Cart?

YES: Green containers in these areas now accept more types of organic waste, including grass clippings, leaves, small branches, flowers, plants, fruit or vegetable scraps, meats, bones, cheese, coffee grounds, tea bags (staples removed), coffee filters, used napkins, greasy pizza boxes, wet or food-soiled paper bags, moldy or bad leftovers, or plate waste.

Tips & Tricks: Use a kitchen pail to collect food scraps and other household organic waste as the week goes on. Place food waste in paper bags before putting in the green cart. You can also keep your food scraps in the fridge or freezer until collection day to reduce any odors.

NO (Trash these): Please do not put any plastic bags, soil, rocks, plant pots, hoses, pet waste and dog poop bags, diapers, or plastic/wax lined paper products such as ice cream cartons, broth cartons, or single use paper cups in your green cart. Paper products that are meant to be waterproof have a plastic or wax lining and should go in the trash. Please also leave out bamboo shoots and palm fronds, as these materials are too fibrous and disrupt composting operations.


If you are located in the cities of Buellton, Goleta, Santa Barbara, Solvang, or the unincorporated areas of the Santa Ynez Valley, and South Coast:

Only yard waste should be going into your green cart. The yard waste from your green cart is ground and chipped to produce mulch, which is readily available for community use.

What can I put in the Green Cart?

YES: Yard waste including of leaves, grass clippings, small branches, flowers, ivy, and other plants.

NO (Trash these): No food waste, plastic bags, plastic pots, wood ash, soil, rocks, ceramic pots, hoses, diapers, or pet waste and dog poop bags please! Some types of plants should not be placed in the green container and must go in the trash, including agave, bamboo, cactus, cannabis, castor bean, eucalyptus, oleander, palm fronds, pampas grass, poison oak, thistle, yucca, and any invasive species. This is because fibrous plants such as palm fronds or bamboo can jam the grinders at our facilities that are used to produce mulch. Additionally, poisonous vegetation, like eucalyptus and oleander, leach toxins that can potentially harm us or our plant friends and will contaminate our mulch piles.

Remember, all materials on the "No" list go in the trash (or your home composting system if acceptable). Learn more by reading our Green Waste Do's and Don'ts.

Santa Ynez Valley & South Coast Greenwaste Songs!


We also have Award Winning Songs that can help you figure out what can and can't go in your green cart in the areas described above. You'll need Windows Media Player or a similar program to listen to them:


If you live or work in the cities of Carpinteria, Guadalupe, Lompoc, or Santa Maria:

Your jurisdiction has its own green cart recycling program. Please visit your city’s website for specific details on how you can properly participate in organic waste recycling.

Self-Hauling Greenwaste and Organics

SB 1383 requires commercial organic waste generators, including landscapers, to maintain certain records if they self-haul their organic waste. Click here for the self-hauler recordkeeping form.

Residents who self-haul their waste must also recycle their organic waste, but they are not required to maintain records.

Residents and commercial food scraps generators have the option to drop-off their food scraps at the following locations:

South Coast:

Isla Vista Food Co-Op (for Isla Vista residents only, located at 6575 Seville Road, carts are available at all times)

Saturday Farmers Market (1119 E Cota Street, Santa Barbara, Saturday 8am – 1pm, residents only)

North County:

City of Lompoc Landfill

City of Santa Maria Landfill

Click here for a list of sites that accept green waste for businesses and residents. Scroll to the bottom for locations by community and region. Please call each location before your visit for hours of operation and applicable fees.

If you have any questions about the County’s organic waste recycling programs, please contact us or call (805) 882-3618.

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