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If you have questions or suggestions regarding this blog post, ideas for future blog posts, or any matter of City business, feel free to contact City Manager Tabatha Miller at (707)961-2829.    

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Feb 28

What Goes Where - Trash, Recycle and Green Waste

Posted on February 28, 2019 at 8:11 AM by June Lemos

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February 27, 2019

In the last couple of months, I have had a number of discussions with City staff, City Councilmembers and my husband regarding what trash goes into which bin. Full disclosure, these discussions may cross over into disagreements (mostly with the husband). I historically have relied on the - when in doubt put it in the recycle bin mentality. This partially originates from the fact that my blue recycle bin is three times larger than my gray trash bin. Not only can I fit a lot more in the blue recycle bin but it makes me feel better about myself if my recycle bin is full. It somehow implies that I am doing my part to make the world a better place. 

Before I get too smug, I know that having my blue recycle bin full still means I consume too much and buy products with too much packaging and waste. It may also mean that I am contributing to the contamination by placing non-recyclable materials in the bin that makes the rest of my recyclables, and potentially everyone else’s in the truck bed, end up in the landfill. If you watched or read the staff report from the January 28, 2019 City Council meeting, you will know that disposing of recyclables in Fort Bragg cost us nothing ($0) in 2017, but before the end of 2018, we paid $60/ton for disposal. As a comparison, gray bin trash that goes to the landfill increased from $74.33/ton to $76.76/ton.  

Changes in the world market of recyclable materials in the last year are largely due to China, once the world's biggest importer of recyclable materials. Since January, when China tightened its standards for the waste it would accept, imports to China of solid waste have dropped more than 50%. Recyclable products that China hasn’t banned have much stricter rules regarding contamination. Other purchasers are also following China's lead and adopting stricter contamination standards. This means that less can be recycled, and I need to be more careful about what I place in the blue bin. 

The green bin provides more options for recycling by composting waste. In other communities where I have lived, the green bin was limited to grass cuttings, palm tree fronds and leaves. Here food scraps of all kinds, including meat, bones and shellfish can be placed in the green bin and sent to the compost facility in Redwood Valley.  Additionally, soiled paper and cardboard products that cannot be recycled can be composted, such as pizza boxes, paper towels, used coffee filters and tea bags.   

Here are a few resources for what goes where. Click here for a more complete list of what goes in which bin. For how to dispose of other household hazards such as paint or electronics reach out to Mendo Recycle at (707) 468-9710 or  For bigger items, remember that Waste Management will be hosting bulk pick-ups the week of March 25-29, (707) 964-9172.