Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

UPDATE (9/30/19) – Congratulations to the current year’s 4R’s Grants Program recipients! For the full list of the grant recipients and a summary of their projects, please click here.


Reducing waste is the best way to limit the impact on our local landfills.

Food Waste & Food Donations

Food donors are protected from liability for their good faith donations under the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. Edible food includes seconds from a grocery store or farm, leftovers from restaurants or caterers, or other unwanted foods from wholesalers. These foods can be donated to food shelters and other organizations. Second Harvest Food Bank accepts surplus food donations from various organizations.


Gleaning means having volunteers help pick and deliver leftover produce to nonprofit organizations and shelters from farms that are no longer economical to harvest.

Bay Area Recycling Outreach Coalition

San Mateo County participates in the Bay Area Recycling Outreach Coalition, whose latest outreach campaign focuses on reducing food waste.

ReThink Disposable: Assistance & Rebate

Ready to reduce food service ware costs and cut waste at your business or school? The ReThink Disposable team will meet with you on-site to assess your current use of disposable food service ware, discuss reusable alternatives and recommend waste-reducing practices. If appropriate, they will also help you apply for a rebate up to $500 toward the purchase of reusable food service ware products.

Additional information can be found in our English and Spanish flyers.

To apply for a consultation, please contact Anthony Guerra at or (650) 363-4014


Reusing or repurposing items helps conserve natural resources and reduces the amount of waste that is disposed of in the landfill. The following are some ways that items can be reused.

Check out our handy Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Guide as a reference for where you can donate your unwanted items!

Posting your unwanted items on one of the sites or listservs below is a great way to give them away for reuse.
Craigslist, NextDoor, Fogster, Freecycle, PennySaver

Surplus Property

The Office of Sustainability’s Surplus Property program aims to find ways to beneficially reuse extra equipment from County departments, ranging from furniture to office supplies, computer equipment, medical equipment, and much more.  Items are first circulated internally to determine whether other departments can make use of them, then offered to local nonprofits and agency partners, and then are finally released for sale to the public.


Purchasing products made from recycled products increases the overall demand in the world for recycling and strengthens recycling commodities markets, increasing the incentive for these materials to be recycled correctly.

OOS recycling products graphic


Curbside collection – Reduce waste by recycling accepted items in the blue bin if you have curbside collection. Check our hauler map for more information about which services are available in your area.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Guide – Check out our handy Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Guide as a reference for locations that accept hard to recycle items!
Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) – include items like batteries, paints, cleaning chemicals, medicine, and electronic wastes. These items cannot go in any curbside bin. For options on how to properly dispose of these items, please visit the County of San Mateo’s Household Hazardous Waste website.


Collection – Reduce your business’ waste by recycling. Check our hauler map for more information about which services are available in your area.
Start a Recycling Program – It’s easy to start a recycling program at work! Over 75% items that are thrown away at work could be recycled. See below for some of the tools that the Office of Sustainability can provide. If you’d like to have assistance getting a program set up, please contact your local hauler or give us a call at 1-888-442-2666 or send us an email at

The 4R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot-Compost) Grants Program

The Office of Sustainability is offering funding assistance to government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions (e.g., schools, school/college districts, state university systems, etc.) through the 4R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot – Compost) Grants Program. The 4R’s Grants Program was developed to help eligible organizations create and implement reuse, waste reduction, recycling, and composting programs in San Mateo County. The program offers two tiers of funding: (1) Mini Grant ($1,000 to $5,000) and (2) Mega Grant (up to $25,000).

Available Grants

Students writing in their camp writing books at Peninsula Young Writers’ creative summer writing enrichment camp focused on the 4R’s.

Mini Grant: The Mini Grant (for funding requests from $1,000 to $5,000) is available to support and fund small projects that will educate and increase awareness around the 4R’s – including reducing waste, increasing recycling, increasing or implementing composting, and increasing reuse. The Mini Grant is designed to serve a variety of potential applicants who need access to small amounts of funding for a limited time and for a specific purpose.

Mega Grant: The Mega Grant (for funding requests up to $25,000) is available for qualified entities to help initiate or expand innovative programs that promote reuse, waste reduction, recycling, and composting or education about these environmental issues throughout San Mateo County (county-wide focus).

Examples of Grant Projects

  • Classroom workshops, trainings, or activities by nonprofits
    Master Food Preserver workshop participants in action, making homemade condiments.
  • School garden start-up funding, which includes funding for garden structures such as sheds and garden beds constructed with salvaged lumber
  • Fixit Clinics or other reuse/repair projects
  • Food waste reduction and reuse programs
  • Materials associated with expanding/implementing a campus/facility-wide recycling, reuse or waste reduction program
  • Environmental educational field trips to waste or recycling facilities, museums, etc.
  • Books, materials and equipment, which will be utilized by teachers and students over the years

Program Year (PY) 2019-2020 Grantees

A total grant amount of $302, 038 will be distributed to 11 Mega Grants grantees and 15 Mini Grants grantees between summer 2019 to summer 2020.  A list of the current year’s grantees can be found here. Congratulations to the newest recipients of the 4R’s Grants Program!

Past Years’ Grantees

Next Grants Cycle Information (PY 2020-21)

The next grant cycle for Program Year 2020-21 will open in January 2020, so please stay tuned for additional information!


If you have questions regarding the 4R’s Grants Program, please email or call 888-442-2666.

Next Gen Foodware Ordinances Workshop: A Policy Lab for Local Government

On December 5th, 2018, about 75 local government staff from all over the Bay Area came together at the Foster City Community Center and participated in a day-long workshop called the Next Gen Foodware Ordinances: A Policy Lab for Local Government, which focused on policy options for reducing single-use foodware items.

Learn more about the Next Gen Foodware Ordinances Workshop here

Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance

In collaboration with the County of San Mateo’s Environmental Health Division, the County’s Office of Sustainability (OOS) has developed a draft Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance (Ordinance) that will impact our food facilities in unincorporated areas of San Mateo County. The objectives of the proposed Ordinance are to:

  1. Eliminate the unnecessary distribution and use of disposable food service ware that is not reusable or compostable;
  2. Improve the health and safety of our San Mateo County community members by eliminating disposable food service ware that is harmful; and
  3. Help meet our regional stormwater permit requirement by reducing litter on our streets that ends up in our stormwater discharges.

How Can You Learn More?

The OOS held three public events in June 2019 (two workshops in Half Moon Bay and Redwood City and one webinar) to provide more information about this effort, answer questions, and gather feedback from our community members, including our food facilities, on the proposed Ordinance. A copy of the presentation that was provided at the public events can be found in the “Resources” section below.

Thank you to all those that attended the public events and provided feedback on the proposed Ordinance! If you have additional feedback, please email or call 888-442-2666.

What Happens Now?

The OOS will synthesize and vet all feedback collected from our community members and update the Ordinance, as needed. Concurrently, the OOS will also work on rolling out a countywide effort by providing support to cities in the county that are interested in also adopting this Ordinance. The cities’ feedback will also be integrated in the Ordinance update. The final Ordinance will then be brought to the County’s Board of Supervisors for review and hopeful adoption at the beginning of 2020. The OOS will continue to communicate with our food facilities in unincorporated San Mateo County the progress of this effort.



Please email or call 888-442-2666.

Countywide Integrated Waste Management Plan

The California Integrated Waste Management Act directs counties to prepare a Countywide Integrated Waste Management Plan (CIWMP). This plan consists of the Source Reduction and Recycling Elements (SRREs), the Household Hazardous Waste Elements (HHWEs), and the Nondisposal Facility Elements (NDFEs) of each jurisdiction, the Countywide Siting Element, and the Countywide Integrated Waste Management Summary Plan. The CIWMP addresses waste management conditions and provides an overview of the actions that will be taken to achieve the diversion requirements of Public Resources Code section 41780 and to maintain 15 years of disposal capacity.

California statute requires the County of San Mateo to review its CIWMP every five years and then report on its adequacy to the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB).  To support the process of completing this review, on June 13, 2019, the City/County Association of Governments (C/CAG) Board approved the establishment of a CIWMP Review Ad Hoc Committee to review the CIWMP documents to determine if they are accurate and up to date. The Ad Hoc Committee consists of 14 members with representations from elected officials as well as staff from the following: solid waste companies, County Office of Sustainability, County Environmental Health, environmental organization, city environmental departments, and the public.

Ad Hoc Committee Members

  • Member roster
  • Chair: Ann Schneider
  • Vice Chair: Christine Kohl-Zaugg
  • Staff Support: Eun-Soo Lim, County of San Mateo Office of Sustainability 650-599-1498 /

CIWMP Review Ad Hoc Committee Meeting Information


Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Guide 2018 Final
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Guide 2018 Final
1.9 MiB
San Mateo County Integrated Waste Management Plan - Summary Plan
San Mateo County Integrated Waste Management Plan - Summary Plan
52.5 MiB
2004 Five-Year Review Report
2004 Five-Year Review Report
7.6 MiB
CIWMP Five Year 2014 Fully Executed
CIWMP Five Year 2014 Fully Executed
1.1 MiB
Agenda 2019 CIMWP Review Ad Hoc Committee Meeting 3 (002)
Agenda 2019 CIMWP Review Ad Hoc Committee Meeting 3 (002)
0.1 MiB
Meeting 3 Agenda Package
Meeting 3 Agenda Package
0.9 MiB