San Diego (pop. 1,338,000) is known for having perhaps the best weather in the entire country, but is America’s Finest City’s recycling program the envy of the rest of the U.S. as well? Recycling is mandatory for all single-family residential dwellings in the city, as well as apartment buildings with five or fewer units. San Diegans can choose between 64- and 96-gallon blue rolling carts to collect their recyclables. Either way, it is an entirely single-stream recycling process.

Materials recycled

Paper San Diego recyclingIncluding paper bags, corrugated cardboard, milk cartons, newspapers and inserts, phonebooks, paperboard packaging, mail items, magazines and catalogs. Plastics All plastic bottles and jars, clean plastic food packaging (no “compostable” plastics or PLA), plastic buckets, plastic tubs, plastic pots, plastic toys, laundry baskets, pallets, lawn furniture, crates and totes. All items must be broken down to fit in the recycling cart. No Styrofoam products, plastic bags, plastic films or plastic utensils accepted. Metals Aluminum cans and steel and tin cans, clean aluminum foil, aluminum trays and empty aerosol cans are accepted. Glass All glass bottles and jars are accepted.


Recycling is collected on a biweekly basis in San Diego.

Other programs

San Diego County hosts a massive network of drop-off recycling locations for all sorts of recyclables, including electronic devices. San Diego residents can safely dispose of household hazardous waste at the HHW transfer facility at the Miramar landfill (on Convoy Street just north of SR-52) on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (by appointment only; call 858.694.7000 to book). Accepted items include household cleaners and solvents, poisons, flammable materials, corrosive materials, consumer batteries, light bulbs, light tubes, fluorescent light bulbs and mercury-containing items. The City of San Diego also hosts occasional oil and oil filter recycling events, open to any city resident for free. For information on the next event, click here. Certain parts of San Diego enjoy a curbside yard waste collection program — in all, about 202,000 households in the city. Participating households can use 32- or 45-gallon trash bins to collect grass, leaves and shrub clippings (clippings must be less than 4 feet long and 6 inches in diameter). Yard waste can also be bundled together with string or twine, no more than 4 feet in diameter and less than 40 pounds.

More information

Visit the City of San Diego Environmental Services website for more recycling program info.