Green Tool Kit: Waste Reduction & Recycling: Waste Diversion

Reduce your waste that goes to landfills by participating in Santa Barbara County’s recycling and composting programs.

In order to qualify for Green Business recognition, businesses must cooperate with the County’s goals by setting up recycling and composting programs. As a result of these programs, the County of Santa Barbara has attained a 73 percent waste diversion rate, thereby meeting the dual goal of conserving resources and reducing the amount of waste that goes to area landfills.

The “Fantastic Three” Bins
three-binsSanta Barbara County’s three-bin waste collection system is designed to make recycling easier, while reducing the amount of waste that is sent to landfills. It is easier to sort your recyclables by combining all bottles, cans, and paper in the blue bin. The green bin is for all green waste items, such as weeds and yard trimmings. Anything that goes in the brown bin is sent to landfill, but remember that hardly anything truly belongs in the brown bin. If you do not currently have service or would like to request change in service levels call MarBorg, 805-963-1852, or Waste Management/Health Sanitation Service (HSS), 805-922-9092, depending on your location in the County to arrange for service.


For information on setting up waste diversion programs and to learn about the cost savings achieved through waste diversion, visit the County’s website for the Resource Recovery and Waste Management Division at

Increase your waste diversion

In Santa Barbara, all Green Business Program applicants are assessed for the quality and the success of the waste diversion programs in their facilities. If you pay your own garbage bill, you can easily evaluate the success of your program by identifying the waste diversion number (indicated as recycling %) on your bill. If you do not pay your own bill, you can peek inside the recycling and composting bins in your office to look for “contamination”. The one area that reduces, if not eliminates, the value of recycling is contamination. There are several steps an applicant can take to ensure that less waste is generated, contamination is minimized and diversion is maximized. Use these tools to strengthen your waste diversion program:


  • recycling-waste-basketsCollection – Participate in the commingled recycling program to recover almost all types of paper and plastic, glass, and metal containers. To recover all recyclable materials generated by staff, set up recycling bins at central, strategic locations (for instance – by large copier stations) as well as at each desk. If your business shreds paper, ensure that shredded paper is bagged in paper or clear bags if not collected by a document destruction service. Set up compost bins to recover all food and yard discards as well as any food related paper products such as paper take out boxes, paper coffee cups, napkins, tissues, paper towels, sandwich wrappers, and pastry bags. Make sure you collect all compostable materials from all kitchens, kitchenettes, and
  • Training – Conduct regular trainings for your staff on materials that belong in each bin. Sendelectronic reminders to your staff on items that (you find) are often placed in the wrong bin (such as coffee cup sleeves, soiled napkins etc).
  • Signage – Use signage to educate staff about materials that belong in each bin. Visit our Downloadable Signage for some samples to print out and use in your business.
  • eWasteDisposal Strategies for items that do not belong in the 3 bins– Collect batteries, electronics, fluorescent lights, plastic bags, and/or scrap metal for proper disposal with a small, well-marked bin near the waste stations. Use to find out how to dispose of these and other items.

For free technical assistance or information on how to start your program please contact SBC Resource Recovery and Waste Management at 805-882-3616.