How Recyclables are Handled in Marin County

Posted on January 7, 2019

Recent changes in international recycling regulations have impacted recycling markets here in Marin County and nationwide so here is a brief refresher on how recyclables are handled in our community.

Resource Haulers in Marin County handle recyclables with two different systems:

  1. “Single Stream” Recycling: Mill Valley Refuse, Bay Cities Refuse, Recology Sonoma Marin & Tamalpais Community Services District
    1. All recyclables go in the same bin EXCEPT if you are part of the Mill Valley Refuse Services Dual Stream Pilot Program.
  2. “Dual Stream” Recycling: Marin Sanitary Service (Fairfax, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Ross and Larkspur)
    1. Paper and cardboard go in the blue side while plastic, metal and glass go in the brown side.

Not sure who your resource hauler is? Just visit our Who Is My Hauler page and click on the name of your city or town.

Whether your resource hauler collects your recyclables in a single stream or dual stream system, here are some tips about preparing your materials for recycling:

  • Quickly rinse your plastic, glass and metal bottles and cans before you recycle them.
  • Clean aluminum foil can be rinsed and recycled.
  • Pizza boxes can be recycled, as long as they are clean and free of food grease. If they are greasy, place them in your green compost cart.

Common items that seem recyclable but actually belong in the trash:

  • Single use coffee cups and single use lids
  • Plastic bags
  • Polystyrene

We encourage you to contact your resource hauler for specific questions about recyclable items. Zero Waste Marin works with cities and towns throughout Marin County to help residents and businesses recycle and compost. Click HERE to download a PDF copy of this newsletter.

Reduce Waste During the Holiday Season

Posted on November 29, 2018

Reducing waste this holiday season begins with thoughtful shopping and gift giving. Please remember to shop smart and waste less this holiday season.

Give an Experience

Give friends and family members a memorable and personalized gift that requires little or no packaging.

  • Tickets to the theater, ballet or symphony
  • Concert or movie passes
  • Membership to a museum
  • A gourmet meal cooked at home
  • A certificate for babysitting, gardening, or cleaning the house or car.

Sustainable Gift Wrap

When wrapping your holiday gifts, instead of purchasing a new roll of wrapping paper and ribbon, consider these alternatives:

  • Gift bags or reusable shopping bags
  • Tins or baskets
  • Old maps, newspaper or magazine pages
  • Holiday fabrics
  • Bows and paper from previous holidays

Never Burn Wrapping Paper!

It is illegal to burn trash and wrapping paper. If you must use wrapping paper, always purchase non-foil-based paper and remember to toss it in your recycling bin, or save and reuse it next holiday season. Remember that bows, ribbons and wrapping papers that contain glitter or velvet surface treatments are not recyclable. These items go directly to the landfill, so avoid purchasing them if you can.

Don’t Trash your Tree

At the end of the holiday season, make sure your tree ends up in the compost pile, not the landfill. Click here for details on what to do.

Zero Waste Marin works with cities and towns throughout Marin County to educate residents about reducing the amount of waste that goes into our local landfills. Click HERE to download a copy of this newsletter.

Reduce Waste During the Holidays

Posted on October 29, 2018

Follow these tips from Zero Waste Marin to reduce waste during the holidays!

Plan ahead to prevent waste

Check your pantry before you go shopping, then make a list and buy only what you need for each recipe, especially if you are cooking for a large group. For more ways to streamline your shopping trips, visit our Tips to Reduce Waste at Home page.

Use your leftovers

Make the most of Thanksgiving by transforming leftovers into satisfying soups, sandwiches, pot pies and more. A simple online search will yield a wide variety of yummy recipes.

Donate extra food

If you cooked or purchased too much, consider donating to local organizations such as the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, the Ritter Center or St. Vincent De Paul Society. For more tips, visit our Food Waste Prevention page.

Compost food scraps

Help keep food waste out of the landfill! Simply toss your turkey carcass, stems, peels, bones and any spoiled food scraps into your green compost cart. For more information on how to compost visit our Composting Info and Courses page.

Dispose of fats, oil and grease correctly

Deep frying your turkey this year? Remember that leftover fats, oils and grease should neverbe poured down the drain. Marin County residents, except those in Novato, can bring used cooking oil in liquid form to the Marin Household Hazardous Waste Facility in San Rafael. For more information on safe disposal, visit the Fats, Oils & Grease page. If you live in Novato, find more information on handling FOG here.

Zero Waste Marin works with cities and towns throughout Marin County to educate residents about reducing the amount of waste that goes into our local landfills. Click HERE to download a PDF copy of this newsletter.

Go Green this Halloween!

Posted on September 24, 2018

Before getting dressed up to go trick-or-treating, Zero Waste Marin would like to encourage residents to be mindful of the environment during this year’s Halloween festivities. Follow these simple tips to prevent candy wrappers, leftover decorations and old costumes from ending up in our landfills.


  • Give your children reusable buckets, canvas bags, or even pillowcases to carry while trick-or-treating.
  • Purchase candy with minimal packaging, or treats packaged in recyclable paper, such as Dots, Nerds, or Milk Duds. These can go in your recycling cart after you’re done enjoying them.


  • Reuse or reinvent costumes from previous years or create a new costume from things you already own. Transform an old bed sheet into a ghost costume or a toga!
  • Browse thrift stores, such as Goodwill, for unique pieces and fresh costume ideas.
  • Old costumes in good condition can be donated to Goodwill — or to your friends or neighbors!
  • Businesses such as The North Face and H&M accept torn or stained textiles. Please visit our Textiles page for more details and resources on how to discard unwanted clothes and old costumes (be sure they are free of glue and paint).

Pumpkin Repurpose

  • If your jack-o-lantern hasn’t been out on the porch too long, cook your pumpkin into a tasty post-Halloween soup or pie!
  • Toast pumpkin seeds using this simple recipe for a healthy and delicious snack.
  • And remember, inedible pumpkin parts can be added to your home compost pile or green compost cart. Visit our Composting in Marin page for more information about the items that belong in your green cart.

Zero Waste Marin works with cities and towns throughout Marin County to educate residents about waste prevention, reuse, and repair. Click HERE to download a copy of this newsletter.

Tips for a Sustainable School Year

Posted on August 22, 2018

Summer break is over, and it’s time to head back to school! Follow these simple tips from Zero Waste Marin for a sustainable school year.

  • Pack a zero waste lunch! Reusable lunch boxes, washable containers and cloth napkins are great alternatives to single use plastic and paper bags, plastic wrap, and other wasteful forms of food storage. Visit our How to Pack a Zero Waste Lunch page for more tips and ideas!
  • Avoid single-use juice boxes, milk cartons, and soda cans. Instead, send your child to school with a reusable water bottle, or purchase beverages in bulk and store them in a reusable thermos.
  • Purchase snacks like nuts and fruits that are sold in bulk bins. Then, toss a handful into a reusable container, and you’ll have your own trail mix to go.
  • Donate old crayons to schools or repurpose them into a fun art project with your family. Follow this simple tutorial on how to make crayon art!
  • Save money and reduce waste by purchasing refillable writing utensils, such as mechanical pencils or refillable ink pens.
  • If possible, opt out of using traditional notebooks and take notes on a laptop or tablet instead. This will save space in your backpack and reduce your paper trail!

For more school tips and resources, or to learn about the Zero Waste Schools Program, visit our School Resources page.

Zero Waste Marin works with cities and towns throughout Marin County to educate residents, families, and students about waste prevention, reuse, and repair. Click HERE to download a copy of this newsletter.

Home Composting & Yard Waste Tips

Posted on July 23, 2018

Composting at home is an easy way to save money on your garbage bill and combat climate change while creating fresh soil for your garden! Want to learn how to do it?

Online Resources

There is a ton of information on the web!  For example, check out this video from our friends at in the Eastbay:

Later this year, Zero Waste Marin will be offering free, two-hour composting courses for Marin County residents. These classes will cover basic composting skills such as mulching, building a hot pile, and transforming food scraps with worms. Each participant receives a free kitchen compost pail! Visit our Home Composting Courses page late this Fall to learn more or to sign up for a course.

Here are a couple of resources and tips to help you get started with composting at home:

  • Avoid adding meat scraps, fish bones, bacon fat, cleaning chemicals, pet waste or diseased plants to your backyard compost pile. These items can attract pests and spread disease.
  • Place your compost bin in an area that is exposed to more sunlight or aerate your pile by mixing the contents every two weeks to speed up the composting process.

If you prefer to put your food scraps and yard trimmings in your green cart, you can! Start by visiting our Composting in Marin page for a general overview of items that can be placed in your green cart. A few tips:

  • Yard and garden waste, such as flowers, grass and leaves, can go in your green cart. Meat, fish, moldy bread and veggie scraps can go in your cart as well.
  • To prevent odors, layer yard waste, newspaper or shredded paper on the bottom of your green cart before adding food scraps. You can also wrap food waste in a paper bag or keep food waste in the freezer until collection day to help contain odors.

Zero Waste Marin works with cities and towns throughout Marin County to educate residents about home composting and yard waste in an effort to help improve the local environment. Click HERE to download a copy of this newsletter.

Sustainable Summer Food Tips

Posted on June 25, 2018

Celebrate summer with the environment in mind! Zero Waste Marin would like to offer residents sustainable and environmentally friendly options for your barbeques, picnics, and get-togethers.

  • Provide your guests with reusable plates, cups, utensils and cloth napkins instead of paper and plastic disposables.
  • Buy in bulk, look for products with as little packaging as possible, and try to shop at grocery stores that allow you to bring your own reusable bag to fill with different kinds of foods to reduce plastic waste. Visit our Tips to Reduce Waste at Home page for more ideas on how to optimize your shopping trips!
  • Avoid excessive food waste by preparing an appropriate amount of food for your expected number of guests. You can donate any extra food to local organizations, such as the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, the Ritter Center or the St. Vincent De Paul Society. For more tips and resources, please visit our Food Waste Prevention page.
  • Repurpose your food scraps! Turn your carrot tops into pesto sauce, make a refreshing summer tea with peach leaves, or even use your shrimp shells to create a delicious shrimp shell stock.
  • Compost all your food scraps! Compostable foods include bones, rinds, eggshells, and your locally farmed clam, mussel, and oyster shells. Learn more about composting on our Composting Info and Courses page.

Zero Waste Marin works with cities and towns throughout Marin County to educate residents about ways to reduce food waste to improve the environment. Click HERE to download a PDF copy of this newsletter.

Rx Disposal and Take-Back

Posted on May 29, 2018

Is it time to clean out your medicine cabinet? What should you do with expired, unused, or unwanted prescription medication or sharps? Never throw these items into the garbage or flush them down the toilet! They can pollute our local waterways and harm our trash collectors. Instead, follow these tips from Zero Waste Marin and our partners to safely dispose of your medication and sharps.

  • Med-Project is a program focused on medication education and safe disposal in Marin County. They offer resources including a prescription drug mail-back service and in-home disposal tips. Visit for a list of nearby disposal locations in Marin.
  • Many local pharmacies now accept sharps and/or pharmaceutical waste. Visit for a comprehensive list of facilities in your area that accept sharps, pharmaceutical waste, or both.
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recognizes National Prescription Drug Take Back Day every April and October. On this day, residents can bring their unwanted prescription medications to a local, participating collection site. For more information, visit

Check with your local disposal outlet for details on pre-disposal procedures. For example, before you dispose of unwanted medication, place your extra tablets or pills in a Ziploc bag and put your empty vials in the garbage. Keep liquid prescription medication in original bottles and remove or mark off the label to ensure your privacy and anonymity before disposal.

Zero Waste Marin works with cities and towns throughout Marin County to educate residents about ways to safely dispose of unwanted prescription medication and improve the environment. Click HERE to download a PDF copy of this newsletter.

Have a Sustainable Summer

Posted on May 14, 2018

Summer is finally here! Before purchasing new outfits or outdoor supplies, Zero Waste Marin would like to provide residents with some quick tips on how to safely recycle and dispose of unwanted, common household items:

Shoes & Clothing

Need to swap out your winter wardrobe to make room for summer clothing?
• Donate your clothes to local thrift stores, such as Goodwill. You can claim these donations as tax deductible.
• Don’t throw your textiles in the trash! Many local retailers have programs to take back your worn out or stained clothing, towels and sheets.

Kitchenware & Appliances

If it’s time to get a new appliance, recycle your unwanted large and small appliances, including refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, and toasters.
• Donate old silverware, plates, cups, pots, pans and other kitchenware to Goodwill.
• If your appliances are still in working condition, contact local charities such as the Salvation Army or Habitat for Humanity. You’ll be able to claim charitable deductions for donated appliances.
• Visit our Recycling Guide for a comprehensive list of organizations that recycle appliances or accept donations.
• For appliances that no longer work, visit Zero Waste Marin’s Electronics Information Page to learn about safe disposal options or contact your local hauler to learn about their collection options.


Planning to upgrade your personal electronics? Here are a couple of smart reuse and recycling options:
• Sell usable electronics on eBay or to a local thrift store for fast cash!
• Consider upgrading a component of your computer, such as adding additional memory or storage, to lengthen your laptop’s life span.
• Recycle used printers and ink cartridges for free through programs like the HP Computer Recycling Program or through


• Donate used books that are still in good condition to local libraries, thrift shops, hospitals, and used book retailers.
• Unusable paperback books and magazines are easily recyclable. When recycling, hardcovers should be removed because the glue that holds the book together is not recyclable.


• Help reduce metal packaging waste and save money on your summer camping trips by switching to refillable fuel canisters! Learn more about refillable fuel canisters or find a local retailer on Refillables can last up to 12 years and be refilled hundreds of times!

Zero Waste Marin works with cities and towns throughout Marin County to educate
residents about waste prevention, reuse, and repair. Click HERE to download a PDF copy of this newsletter.

Celebrate Earth Day on April 22

Posted on March 29, 2018

Earth Day is an annual, worldwide event that celebrates efforts to protect our environment. This Earth Day, choose one of the following eco-conscious activities to reduce waste and pollution here in Marin County.

  • Plant a tree. Trees produce oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide and counter toxic byproducts of burning fossil fuels – all of which help improve air quality. Plant a tree in your own backyard with your family or friends or join local volunteer groups such as Marin County’s Dedication Tree Day at Lagoon Park, where you can plant a tree to commemorate a loved one and help restore habitats for local wildlife. You can also support organizations that aim to reverse deforestation, like the Canopy Project.
  • Switch to reusable. Instead of purchasing coffee in a paper cup with a plastic top, bring your own coffee cup.
  • Shop Local. Shop for groceries at local farmer’s markets. Not only is the food fresh, but it’s virtually free of packaging! Make smart decisions about what to purchase and be sure to eat what you buy to avoid wasting food.
  • Make a backyard compost pile. Composting reduces your carbon footprint and repurposes food waste. You can purchase a backyard compost bin from your local hardware store or build your own.
  • Recycle and compost every day. Every year, Americans generate more than 258 million tons of trash. Visit the Who is My Hauler page to learn more about the recycling and composting services offered in your city or town.
  • Have you heard about Clean Marin? This new public private partnership is designed to support and encourage all the efforts in Marin that keep it clean and healthy. Find volunteer opportunities and more information at

Zero Waste Marin works with cities and towns throughout Marin County to educate residents about ways to reduce waste and improve the local environment.

Click HERE to download a PDF copy of this newsletter.