Organics, recycling, landfill… What waste goes where?

July 23, 2019

Organics, recycling, landfill… What waste goes where?

If you aren’t sure if your empty coffee cup should go in the landfill, recycling, or organics waste bin, you aren’t alone. Sorting waste can be confusing, and new overseas regulations like the China National Sword have made it more important than ever for residents to properly sort their waste. To further complicate matters, many cities have different rules when it comes to sorting.

Below is a list of the most common items that end up in the wrong bin here in Hayward:

Coffee Cups. Disposable coffee cups belong in the landfill bin. They are lined with a plastic film that can’t be broken down in Hayward’s local composting process or be recycled. The best way to reduce waste associated with coffee cups is to ditch them altogether and use your own reusable cup.

‘Compostable’ Plastic. Plastic identified on its packaging as ‘compostable’ (including forks, spoons, knives, straws, and cups) is not truly compostable here in Hayward, and should be discarded in the landfill bin or cart. It takes about three months for Hayward’s organics to be turned into compost. ‘Compostable’ plastics, or bio-plastics, do not break down fast enough and therefore should always be placed in the landfill bin.

Food. All food scraps, including eggshells, coffee grounds, meat, and bones, go into the green organics bin. You can also discard food-soiled paper, napkins, paper towels, pizza boxes, egg cartons, and yard waste in the organics bin. Need a kitchen compost pail? Contact Hayward’s local Waste Management office (22770 Main Street, 510-537-5500) to pick one up for free.

For a more comprehensive list of sorting dos and don’ts, view Waste Management’s new recycling guides for residents and businesses. Questions and requests for additional information may be directed to Hayward’s Sustainability Specialist, Nicole Grucky, at