Organic Waste Recycling

What is Organic Waste?

Organic waste in municipal solid waste generally includes the following. 

  • Food scraps including all solid, semi-solid and liquid food such as fruit, vegetables, cheese, meat, bones, poultry, seafood, bread, rice, pasta, tea bags, coffee filters, and oils.
  • Food-soiled paper is the uncoated paper that is soiled by food waste such as napkins, paper towels, paper cups, fast food wrappers and take out boxes, egg cartons, used pizza boxes, wax-coated cardboard, and other paper and compostable food packaging.
  • Yard trimmings include grass clippings, leaves, flowers, hedge clippings, and weeds.  Non-hazardous wood waste includes tree branches, tree trunks, and untreated lumber.

This does not mean that all organic waste programs including the City of Laguna Niguel Residential Organic Waste Program can accept all of the items listed above. Some of these materials, despite being organic, are not easy to decompose at a regular composting or anaerobic digestion facility. Please consult brochures and educational materials provided by the City or the franchised waste hauler to verify the organic materials that can or cannot be put in your organic waste bins.

Residential Organic Waste Program

The City of Laguna Niguel together with CR&R Environmental Services launched an Organics Recycling Program on July 1st, 2019. This 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.

Kitchen Food Scrap containers are available for purchase by contacting CR&R Environmental Services at (877) 728-0446.

Helpful Information About Residential Organics Program 

Tips for your Kitchen Food Scrap Container Kitchen Food Scrap Container Opens in new window

  • Empty your container after every meal
  • Sprinkle baking soda on top of your food scraps
  • Line your container with a compostable bag
  • Place pieces of torn newspaper or paper bag on the bottom of the container to absorb liquids
  • Drain excess liquids before placing food scraps in the container
  • Please note the container is dishwasher safe

Tips for your Green Organics Cart

  • Place yard waste in the very bottom of the cart first to absorb liquids
  • Alternate layers of yard waste and food scraps
  • Keep the cart in a covered or shaded area out of direct sunlight

Residential Organics Recycling FAQs

How often is my green organics cart going to be picked up? Weekly and your collection day will remain the same.

If I don’t have much organic material, can I put my kitchen food scrap container out for collection? No. All organic material must be placed in your green organics cart.

Does pet waste go into the green organics cart? No. Pet waste needs to be placed into the black trash cart.

Residential Organics Recycling Introduction Video

Commercial and Multi-Family Organic Waste Program

Assembly Bill 1826 requires businesses, including multi-family buildings with five (5) or more units that generate a specific amount of organic waste per week (yard trimmings, food scraps, and food-soiled paper) to arrange for organics recycling and diversion services according to a tiered implementation schedule.  These organic materials account for nearly one-third of the approximately 30 million tons of waste destined for California's landfills each year which could be used for soil amendments like compost and mulch.

Who is Required to Have Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling Services?

Effective January 1, 2016, AB 1826 (Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling) places requirements on businesses, multi-family residences and jurisdictions to divert organics, which consists of food waste, green waste, and non-hazardous wood waste, out of the landfills.  Obligations for commercial organics recycling began on April 1, 2016, and will ramp up over the next four years as summarized in the table below:

*CY = cubic yards
Commencement Date
Requirements for Businesses and Multi-Family
Requirements for Jurisdictions
January 1, 2016
Implement organics recycling program for businesses and multi-family residences
April 1, 2016
Businesses with 8 CY /week + of organic material must recycle organics**
January 1, 2017
Businesses with 4 CY/week + of organic material must recycle organics**
January 1, 2019
Businesses with 4 CY /week + of solid waste must recycle organics**
January 1, 2020
Businesses with 2 CY /week + of solid waste** must recycle organics**

*"Businesses" includes multi-family residences with five (5) units or more; however, multi-family premises are not required to recycle food waste under AB 1826. Please note that as of January 1, 2022, California's Senate Bill 1383 and an update to Laguna Niguel's municipal code require commercial businesses, including multi-family premises, to subscribe to the City's three-cart collection system for food scraps, source-separated recyclable material, and landfill items. Details can be found on the City of Laguna Niguel's website at
**This will only be applicable if CalRecycle determines that the statewide disposal of organic waste has not been reduced to 50% of the 2014 disposal level.

To summarize the table above, businesses with eight (8) cubic yards (CY) of organic waste must have an organics diversion program in place by April 1, 2016.  These identified businesses will have to source separate organic waste from non-organic waste and participate in a waste recycling service that includes collection and recycling of organic waste.  Businesses also have the option to self-haul their organic waste off-site for processing and recycling.

To Comply, Your Business Can:

  • Donate food to a food bank or other food recovery organization
  • Abound Food Care
  • Second Harvest of Orange County

  • Self-haul to a recycling or composting facility that accepts food waste like
    • West Valley Materials Recovery (909) 899-5501; and 
    • Burrtec - Robert A Nelson Facility (951) 786-0655
  • Subscribe to an organics collection program provided by CR&R Inc. and contact one of the City's two dedicated Sustainability Coordinators with CR&R at

The businesses with 4 CY of organic waste would be expected to start organics recycling on or after January 1, 2017, and so forth.

CR&R began offering food waste recycling services for Laguna Niguel food establishments in early 2010 as part of an OC Waste and Recycling grant-funded pilot commercial food waste recycling program from April 2010 - October 2011. Laguna Niguel was chosen among eight other Orange County cities to participate in the food waste composting program. The Laguna Niguel food businesses that participated in this pilot program included Henry's Market Place, Fred's Mexican Cafe, and Mimi's Cafe. The total food waste tonnage diverted from these four businesses totaled 304.23 tons.

CR&R can assist with determining appropriate waste service levels for implementing the organics recycling program.