You may not believe it, but, San Jose, CA, the epicenter of Silicon Valley and much of the domestic Internet boom, is the nation’s tenth-largest city, with 1,000,536 residents. The city’s growth has been astounding — it has surged more than 10% since 2000, and nearly 6% since 2010 — and with all of those residents comes a slew of waste management issues. Yet San Jose is home to one of the country’s most complete curbside programs (not unlike nearby San Francisco and Oakland), accepting diverse materials like motor oil and clothing right at the curb and offering local solutions for everything from e-waste to old Christmas trees. The program works, too — the city’s 74% diversion rate (in 2013) is among the country’s strongest (to boot, that number tops 90% in city facilities). A targeted 100% trash diversion rate by 2022 is perhaps attainable if program participation continues to spike.

Materials recycled

Paper Newspapers and inserts, beverage cartons/boxes, corrugated cardboard, paperboard, magazines, catalogs, egg cartons, envelopes, gift-wrap (no foil-containing wraps), junk mail, flyers/advertisements, office paper, construction paper, paper bags, shoe boxes and phonebooks are accepted. Plastics All plastic items labeled 1 through 7, excluding plastic bags and polystyrene foam (Styrofoam) items are accepted. All items must be rinsed/clean. Metals Aluminum cans, tin/steel cans, empty aerosol cans, aluminum foil (clean), aluminum trays (clean), keys, small metal appliances and metal lids and caps are accepted. Glass Glass bottles and jars are accepted. Motor oil Used motor oil is accepted at the curbside, provided that residents use city-approved containers. For further information, click here. Textiles Clean cotton, linen, polyester, rayon and wool fabrics, clothing, blankets and sheets may be placed inside a secured clear plastic bag and dropped into the recycling cart.


San Jose recycles at the curb on a weekly basis — same day as refuse and yard waste collection. Carts must be placed curbside by 6 a.m. on collection day and should be spaced 2 feet apart. A collection day lookup tool is available online.

Other programs

There are two ways that San Jose residents can participate in weekly curbside yard waste pick-up: either by placing yard trimmings in a heap at the curb or by placing them in an optional yard waste collection cart (for a monthly fee). Accepted organics include branches sized 5 feet or less in length and 6 inches or less in diameter, flowers/plants, grass clippings, leaves, palm fronds, prunings and sod. Household hazardous waste items are collected by scheduling a free pick-up appointment. This service is available throughout San Jose and surrounding Santa Clara County. Visit the Santa Clara County Hazardous Waste website to schedule a pick-up. Free HHW drop-off locations around the county are listed here. The county also provides an up-to-date listing of approved e-waste recyclers that accept drop-offs from consumers. Find that list here. The City of San Jose’s Construction & Demolition Diversion Program ensures that at least 75% of all C&D waste is diverted from local landfills. The program guides waste diversion through a series of required steps toward compliance. Visit the city’s website for complete details. The city’s Christmas tree recycling program runs from December 26 through the end of January each year. Trees larger than 5 feet must be pared down, and trees or tree segments must be placed at least 5 feet from obstructions on pick-up day.

More information

Visit the San Jose Recycling Program website for more recycling program info.