Oakland aims to go waste-free by 2020, but how achievable is that goal?
BackgroundOakland, CA (pop. 400,740) sits across the bay from iconic recycling city San Francisco, but this East Bay city has a growing recycling reputation of its own that is worthy of your attention. Oakland residents use gray 64-gallon single-stream recycling carts to collect recyclables on a weekly basis — just one of many points in a strategic plan to make Oakland waste-free by 2020. Since 2000, recycling rates are up 33% across the city and landfill rates are down 27%. Only time will tell whether Oakland can reach its goal, as it is still six years out. But this increase in recycling rate is certainly encouraging.
Materials recycledPaper Accepted items include carbonless paper, catalogs, magazines, junk mail, juice boxes, soup boxes, milk cartons, flattened cardboard boxes (less than 3×3 in size), computer paper, paper egg cartons, envelopes, paper bags, newspapers and inserts, paper towel/toilet paper tubes, office paper, phonebooks and shoe boxes. Plastics Plastic bottles and tubs are accepted. No plastic bags or Styrofoam. Metals Aluminum cans and tin/steel cans, empty aerosol cans and aluminum foil are accepted. Glass Glass bottles and jars are accepted.
FrequencyOakland residents take recyclables to the curb on a weekly basis, same day as refuse collection. Carts must be curbside by 6 a.m. on collection day.
Other programsYard trimmings and food scraps can be discarded in the green roll cart that is collected weekly as well. Acceptable organics include leaves, flowers, grass, weeds, houseplants, trimmings, branches (less than 4 feet long and 6 inches in diameter), unpainted/untreated wood (less than 4 feet long and less than 6 inches in diameter), fruits, vegetables, meat, bones, coffee grounds and coffee filters, tea leaves and teabags, eggshells, dairy products, paper towels, napkins, paper plates, paper cups, paper ice cream cartons and paper take-out containers.
Waste Management of Alameda County (an area that includes Oakland and surrounding cities like Albany, Berkeley, Fremont and Hayward, among others) collects Christmas trees at the beginning of January each year. A citywide Construction and Demolition Debris Waste Reduction and Recycling Ordinance requires that 100% of all asphalt/concrete materials and 65% of all other C&D materials be recovered from all construction and demolition worksites.