United States
                                Environmental Protection
                              Solid Waste and
                              Emergency Response
October 1999
San  Jose,  California
25% Waste Reduction Rate in Multi-family Dwellings
                                   San Jose, California s multi-family sector recovered 25% by weight of its
                                   solid waste in FY97. By contracting with private haulers, the city of San
                                   Jose offers weekly collection of more than 26 recyclable materials,
                                    including yard trimmings, to every multi-family household in the
                                   ethnically diverse city. In order to maximize participation, San Jose
                                   offers financial incentives to its haulers and MFD building owners for
                                   waste reduction, and the city and its contractors conduct on-going
                                   education programs aimed at building managers and residents.
                                Program Description
                                   Driven by a California law requiring cities to
                                   divert 50% of their waste by the year 2000,
                                San Jose added multi-family dwellings to its
                                    residential recycling program.  It began
                                      yard trimmings pick-up in 1991 and pick
                                          up of other recyclables in 1993.
                                             Green Team, a local company,
                                          collects trash and recyclables other
                                         than yard trimmings from multi-
                                         family dwellings. Green Team
                                         provides buildings with
                                        approximately one set of three (one
                                        for each: newspaper, mixed paper, and
                                       other recyclables) 96-gallon recycling
                                       bins for every 25 households.  Building
                                       managers usually place bins near
                                      dumpsters and in other convenient
                                         Occasionally, when bins are
                                     contaminated with trash or the wrong
                                     recyclables, the collection driver leaves a
                                     sticker on the bin explaining why
                                     materials were not collected. The driver
                                      also sends a non-collection letter to the
                                      building contact, with tips on how to
                                       correct the problem.
                                           Yard trimmings account for 66% of
                                        material diverted from the multi-family
                                         waste stream. Building maintenance
                                         staff put yard trimmings either in the
                                          street along the curb or in burlap
                                          tarps.  Crews from one of two
                                             companies bring yard trimmings to two
                                             privately owned composting sites. Trimmings
                                             are either windrow composted or ground into
                                             mulch. Finished compost and mulch are sold or
                                             used as soil amendment on farms and city parks.

                                             Outreach Activities

                                                Outreach activities comprise two main
                                                components:  providing educational and
                                             instructional material, and conducting on-site
                                             visits. Outreach activities have essentially two
                                             audiences: building managers and residents.
                                             For managers, Green Team staff provide
                                             building managers with tools to help them take
                                             an active role in recycling. These include signs,
                                             information on volume-based trash fees, model
                                             lease agreements incorporating paragraphs
                                              Materials Collected
                                              Corrugated cardboard
                                              Mixed paper (magazines,catalogs, paper
                                                 bags, telephone books, paperboard,
                                                 colored and white paper, envelopes,
                                                 mail, paper egg cartons)
                                              Glass containers
                                              Juice and milk cartons
                                              Plastic bottles and jugs
                                              Polystyrene packaging
                                              Scrap metals (including aluminum foil
                                                 and pie pans, metal can lids, small
                                                 metal appliances, hubcaps, metal pots)
                                              Yard trimmings
                                        This profile is part of the fact sheet Complex Recycling Issues: Strategies for Record-Setting Waste Reduction in Multi-
                                        Family Dwellings (EPA-530-F-99-022).

about recycling, and a service
agreement packet containing
brochures listing services provided and
tips for dealing with contamination.
    The city produces all outreach
materials, including posters and
informational brochures, in English,
Spanish, and Vietnamese. In addition,
Green Team makes site visits and
presentations whenever requested, and
puts on recycling carnivals for children.
The Environmental Services
Department (ESD) runs a recycling
customer service line.
   The ESD's operating costs for multi-
   family waste management services
include payments to Green Team for
trash and recycling services; payments to
haulers and processors for yard
trimmings collection and composting;
landfill fees for trash disposal; billing and
customer service; and overhead costs for
rent, staff salaries and benefits,
administrative support, and supplies.  In
FY97, these multi-family waste
management costs totalled $11,000,000.
Of this, disposal services cost
approximately $6,300,000 and diversion
services cost approximately $4,500,000.
    ESD incurred no capital costs for
the program, as contractors provide all
    One of the main goals of the San
Jose recycling program is to divert trash
from the landfill, extending its life.  To
maximize diversion, ESD charges
building owners volume-based fees for
trash pick-up and nothing for
recyclables pick-up.  Building owners
with high participation rates save
money by reducing their trash. One
building complex, for example, saves
over $10,000 in disposal costs per year
by recycling 62% of its solid waste.
Tips for Replication

   Involve building management.
Programs improve significantly when
managers actively promote recycling.
   Educate building owners. Owners
can only use services they know about.
   Sell program economics to
building owners.
   Keep it simple.  If the program is
intuitive, higher recovery and
participation rates usually result.
   Be persistent. High diversion
recycling programs at multi-family
homes require energy from recycling
coordinators and building managers.
   Reach residents by placing
information where the residents are,
such as on or near recycling containers.
     Robin Moore
     Associate Environmental
     City of San Jose Environmental
      Services Department
     777 N. First Street, Suite 450
     San Jose, CA 95112
     (408) 277-5533 fax (408) 277-3669
                     Program Summary, FY97
  Start Date
  Buildings in Program
  Type of Multi-Family Buildings

  Households Served
  Households per Building
  Total Waste Generated (Tons)
  Total Diverted (%)
  Average Generation (Ibs./HH/day)
  Net Costs per HH per Year*
Yard trimmings phased in Sept. 1991 to
Sept. 1992; other recyclables July 1993
3,400 buildings
All buildings with 4 households or more,
mobile homes, condominiums, and
2,400 buildings have 4-10 households
650 buildings have 11-50 households
150 buildings have 51-100 households
200 buildings have 101 or more households
                                           HH = household
                                           Note: Numbers may not add to total due to rounding.
                                           *Costs represent the ESD's payments to contractors for disposal and diversion services, landfill tip fees, billing,
                                           customer service, overhead costs for rent, staff salaries and benefits, administrative support, and supplies.