Where does the green waste go?

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A neighbor asks: “Why do we compost?” “Where does it go?” As you know, here in Alameda we have great big green bins that we can fill with anything organic—apple peels, rotten zucchinis, used tissues, chicken bones, and, as just confirmed by Teresa Montgomery from Alameda County Industries, even our pizza boxes.

Montgomery reports that everything Alamedans put in their green bins goes to Newby Island in San Jose, where it’s turned into mulch and compost by a company ACI subcontracts with, Allied Industries. “They have what they call windrows, and the waste is left out in the elements and turned by equipment there until it breaks down,” says Montgomery. It is then sold in large quantities to landscaping and agricultural companies.

Her big plea to residents: leave the plastic bags — or anything that looks like a plastic bag — out of the green bin (it’s too hard for sorters to tell if a plastic-looking bag might biodegrade, like some of the new ones made of corn starch, and what won’t). “They have a flat policy,” says Montgomery. “Anything that looks like plastic they don’t want it.”

And one more tidbit: The contents of your blue bin go to San Leandro, where they’re separated–paper, plastic, glass–and shipped off to buyers. We can put most anything in our blue bins. “The one exception,” says Montgomery, “is plastic bags that are #2 or #4. You can take them back to most supermarkets, and they can recycle them there.”

Here’s the e ACI scoop on just exactly what you can put in each of your bins.


  • Kiwi Courters

    The best thing is putting the Alameda Journal in the green bin after using it for bird cage liner. I wonder why there isn’t a post about health, since the paper endlessly runs a bunch of crap about health for pages and pages, week after week. Newspaper? What news? Why hasn’t this rag folded?
    Kiwi Courters

  • Leslie D.

    Better yet, go to Stopwaste.org where Alameda County residents can get a discount on a home compost bin. A lot of what goes into your green bin can actually be composted in your back yard and used to nourish your own garden.

  • Michael Moore

    Compost ?
    What a waste! It should be churned into biofuel and power city buses. This is being done in Lille, France and in Malmo, Sweden. We do not need anymore god dam mulch! That is an incredible waste.
    It is typically american, being wasteful with resources and living off the fat of the land. Compost! – I can’t believe it !!!!!!!
    Michael Moore, Berkeley