Residential Organics Recycling

Residential Organics Recycling Program

New Organics Program - Yard Debris and Food Scraps

The City of San Juan Capistrano, together with CR&R Environmental Services, began a new Residential Organics Recycling Program on July 1, 2020. This new program will co-collect food scraps and yard waste in your green cart. The organic material collected will be taken to CR&R's Regional Organics Anaerobic Recovery (ROAR) Facility in Perris, CA to be converted into renewable natural gas and anaerobic compost. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, about 94% of the food we throw away ends up in landfills or combustion facilities. Keeping food scraps out of landfills helps to reduce the amount of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, emitted into the atmosphere. All residents' monthly solid waste services include three carts: refuse, dry recyclables, and organics/green waste. If you do not already have an organics green cart, please contact CR&R Customer Service at 877-728-0446 to order one.

Residential Organics Recycling Introduction Video

Kitchen Food Waste Container Distribution:Food waste trash can image available for Give-A-Way

Public Works staff is excited to announce the distribution of FREE kitchen food waste containers to all residents. Kitchen food waste containers, promotional envelopes containing 10 Bio-Bag compostable bags (plus a $1.00 off coupon), and instructional flyers on how to use the container were approved expenditures as part of the City’s funds received from the SB 1383 Local Assistance Grant Program. Staff will be tracking this distribution effort to assure that all residents receive a container should they desire one. Following implementation of the City's multi-family properties, staff will focus efforts on the City's mobile home communities and then single-family households. Staff hopes to offer all San Juan Capistrano residents kitchen food waste containers by June 2023. 

How to Use Your Kitchen Food Waste Container

Instructional brochure is available here (PDF)

What's Accepted in Your Food Waste Collection Container?






Accepted foods are Bread, Pasta, Rice, Beans, Dairy, Nuts, Coffee, Tea, Fruits, Vegetables, Processed Foods, Meat, & Fish

  •  Bread, Pasta, Rice & Beans (e.g., stale bread, muffins, pizza crust, risotto, black beans, baked beans)
  •  Dairy & Nuts (e.g., cheese, eggs, eggshells, almonds, peanut shells, yogurt, mayonnaise, dips)
  •  Coffee & Tea (e.g., coffee grounds, coffee filters, tea leaves, stapleless tea bags)
  •  Fruits & Vegetables (e.g., apples, carrots, lettuce, avocados, banana peels, potatoes, pickles, salsa)
  •  Processed Foods (e.g., candy, french fries, peanut butter, ramen)

*Frozen, spoiled, or moldy foods also are accepted.






  •  No Liquids
  •  No Glass, Plastic, Foam, Metal or Foil
  •  No Single use coffee pods
  •  No Dryer or Vacuum Lint
  •  No Ashes
  •  No Pet Food, Pet Waste or Cat Litter
  •  No Dead Animals
  •  No Diseased plants
  •  No Garbage or Trash
  •  No Diapers or Used Toilet Paper
  •  No Clothing or Textiles
  •  No Rocks, Sand, Dirt, Lumber or Logs
  •  No Pills or Medications
  •  No Chemical or Cleaning Wipes
  •  No Paper or "Plastic-like" Compostable To-Go Containers, cups, and single use utensils
  •  No Chewing Gum

When in doubt, throw it out! Put it in the refuse black cart. Contamination occurs when unacceptable items get mixed into the recycle cart or green organics cart. Contamination will damage your efforts to recycle and place the entire collection at risk of being non-viable and subsequently sent to the landfill.

Tips for Preventing Odor and Pests

There are easy things you can do to keep your organics recycling odor and pest free both indoors and outdoors.


  • Drain excess liquid from food waste before discarding.
  • Freeze/refrigerate scraps before adding to the organic waste container.
  • Wash container frequently with soap & water.  The kitchen food waste container is dishwasher safe.
  • Sprinkle baking soda on the inside of the container to control odors.
  • Use a compostable bag or brown paper bag to contain the scraps for disposal or line the container with food-soiled paper or newspaper.
  • Wrap your food scraps in paper towels or newspaper.
  • Empty the Kitchen Food Waste Container frequently to your curbside organics/green cart.


  • Layer yard waste on the bottom of your curbside container before adding food waste. Yard trimmings include grass clippings, leaves, flowers, hedge clippings, and weeds.  Non-hazardous wood waste includes tree branches, tree trunks, and untreated lumber.
  • Use a hose to rinse your organics green cart, letting any debris rinse out onto your lawn (not a storm drain).

Lining Your Kitchen Food Scrap Collection Container

You may line your pail, but it is not necessary. Compostable bags of any brand are allowed, but they must be Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) or ASTM D6400 approved. You may also consider lining your pail with newspaper and/or already soiled paper bags as an alternative. Never use plastic bags. Compostable bags are available at the following local retailers:

  • Denault's Ace Hardware, 31862 Del Obispo Street
  • Marbella Farmer's Market, 31109 Rancho Viejo Road
  • Costco Wholesale, 33961 Doheny Park Road
  • Smart and Final Extra, 34091 Doheny Park Road
  • Gelson's Market, 30731 Gateway Place

When Do I Put the Curbside Organics/Green Cart Out?

Be sure to place the contents of your Food Waste Collection Container into your organics/green cart on your regular curbside garbage collection day.  Do not place your kitchen food waste container outdoors at curbside collection.


If you have questions or require additional assistance, please contact Noreen Swiontek, Environmental Programs Analyst, (949) 487-4307 or email