What’s the story with our yard waste and food scraps?

By Lael Wageneck

for SBC Public Works


Per California’s new state law, SB 1383, Santa Barbara County businesses and residents are required to recycle green waste and food waste beginning this month. Fortunately, the county’s long-standing organics recycling programs and new ReSource Center will ensure that our community achieves compliance with the new requirements.

Commercial and residential waste that is thrown into a trash cart or bin in Buellton, Goleta, Santa Barbara, Solvang, and the unincorporated areas of the Cuyama Valley, Santa Ynez Valley and South Coast is processed at the county’s newly opened ReSource Center. 

Recyclable materials are recovered and sold and organics (including food waste) are separated from trash and transformed into compost and energy that powers up to 3,000 homes per year. With this new facility, approximately 60% of additional waste from our trash cans is diverted from the landfill, bringing our region’s diversion rate to above 85% while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This means that residents who live or work in these areas are following the new state law by continuing to throw their waste into the same bins as you are today.

In addition to the ReSource Center, the county offers other ways for the community to recover and recycle organics.

Yard waste collection: Yard waste collected in your green container is converted into mulch. The county produces over 40,000 tons of high-quality mulch every year, which goes back to the community and local agriculture. Please do not mix food scraps with your yard waste, as it interferes with the mulching process. Visit www.LessIsMore.org/mulch to learn more about the county’s Mulch Program.

Backyard composting: The county’s Backyard Composting Program makes it easy to compost where you live. Visit www.LessIsMore.org/compost to access a free “Composting ABC’s” booklet and learn about the discounted composting bin program. Within months, you can have finished compost for your garden.

Commercial food scraps collection and processing: The county’s Commercial Food Scraps Collection Program is available to large food scraps generators, such as schools, restaurants and grocery stores. The collected food scraps are processed at the ReSource Center, increasing the overall quality of the finished compost.

As a reminder, for those living in the ReSource Center “wasteshed,” there’s no change in how you need to manage your waste. Residents should continue using their green waste, recycling and trash containers in the same way they always have. Please contact the County Public Works Department with any questions at 805-882-3600 or recycling@countyofsb.org.