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Business Recycling

Good News! Businesses in the unincorporated areas of the Santa Barbara County can save money by recycling.

Because recycling service can be up to 40 percent less expensive than trash service, businesses can save a significant amount of money. Find out more about the programs the County offers businesses.

Reducing Waste Makes Business Sense

You know the formula for a successful business: maximize income and minimize costs. Join leading businesses that accomplish both by following these waste reduction and recycling techniques.

You can read our great information on our Outreach Materials Page. That page also has recycling posters and other materials avaiable.

Exactly how does it make good business sense?

  • Net operating costs can be reduced because recycling is less expensive than trash disposal
  • Buying re-manufactured goods and those with recycled-content can save money
  • Customers, employees, and the community notice when businesses are environmentally friendly
  • It doesn't cost much to start a recycling and waste reduction program, but the savings continue for as long as the program is in place

We are here to help!

If you need assistance establishing or improving a recycling program, contact us by email or call 882-3616. We are committed to helping local businesses reduce waste, recycle, and buy products made of recycled materials. Some of the services we offer include:

Mandatory Commercial Recycling Program


Since September 1, 2003, the County of Santa Barbara has had a mandatory recycling program for businesses in the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County.  Under this program, the following materials may not be thrown into the trash:

  • Aluminum foil and pie plates free of residue
  • Cardboard
  • Glass containers
  • Metal cans
  • Mixed paper, including magazines and junk mail
  • Newspapers
  • Paperboard
  • Pots and pans and
  • Hard plastics numbers 1 through 7

Effective July 1, 2013, Tetra-pak (look for wording on package) or aseptic containers, such as soy milk and soup containers, as well as refrigerated cartons such as those containing milk or juice, may be thrown into commingled recycling containers. Please ensure that the containers are emptied of their contents.  As a result, these types of containers may no longer be thrown into the trash.

Options to Comply with Disposal Ban

Businesses have three options to comply with this disposal ban:

  1. Contact their waste hauler and order recycling service or
  2. Share a recycling container with another nearby business or
  3. Self-haul their recyclables to a buyback/drop-off facility.

Sharing a Recycling Container

A business that decides to share a recycling container with a nearby business must have the nearby business provide the following information to the County Public Works Department via letter or e-mail message:

  • The types of recyclables that are being collected by the business that is not the account holder
  • The frequency that the recyclables are collected by the business's waste hauler and
  • A confirmation that the business that is the account holder is allowing the non-account holder business to share its recycling container.

Upon receiving this information, the County will schedule a site visit with the business owner to confirm that the recycling program meets the applicable requirements.  After the site visit has been completed, the County will send a letter to the owner (non-account holder) confirming the business's compliance.

Self-Hauling of Recyclables

A business that decides to self-haul its recyclables must send the County Public Works Department a letter or e-mail message that provides the following information:

  • The types of recyclables that will be collected
  • The name and address of the facility where the recyclables will be taken
  • The approximate frequency that the recyclables will be taken to the facility and
  • The name and telephone number of a contact person.

Upon receiving this information, the County will schedule a site visit with the business owner to confirm that the recycling program meets the applicable requirements.  After the site visit has been completed, the County will send a letter to the owner confirming the business's compliance. 

Compliance and Enforcement

Waste hauler drivers will conduct periodic checks of a business's recycling containers for contamination.  If a recycling container has an estimated 25 percent or more trash, then the driver will notify the office after documenting responses to the following questions:

  • Does the business owner have recycling containers?
  • Are the recycling containers being used?
  • Does the business owner need more recycling containers?

The office will then call the business owner to verify the existing service levels, remind the owner of the materials that can be recycled, and advise the owner that continued non-compliance will result in the imposition of a non-compliance fee. 

Every effort will be made to address any difficulties that an owner might be having.  If, however, after several conversations and meetings, a business owner still is not recycling or his/her recycling containers contain 25 percent or more trash, then the County will contact the owner a final time to verify his/her understanding of the program and to inform the owner about the repercussions of not participating or fully complying.

Non-Compliance Fee

If a business owner refuses to recycle or has unacceptably high levels of contamination in his/her recycling container, then the County will send a letter notifying the business owner that a non-compliance fee of 20 percent of the owner's trash bill will be imposed.  The County will then direct the applicable waste hauler to impose the non-compliance fee on the owner's next trash bill. 

If an owner subsequently complies with the requirements of the program, then the County will advise the applicable waste hauler to rescind the non-compliance fee on the owner's next trash bill.

Exemption Protocol

If a business owner wants to request a waiver or exemption from participating in the program, he/she must obtain and complete a Request for Waiver/Exemption Form and provide documentation to the County that demonstrates that the program's requirements would result in "undue or unreasonable hardship."  Upon receiving this information, the County, accompanied by a waste hauler representative, will conduct a site visit.  The County will subsequently issue a written Notice of Determination that explains whether or not the waiver or exemption will be granted.   If the waiver or exemption is granted, then the County will copy the applicable waste hauler in the correspondence.  If the County denies the request for a waiver or exemption, then it will notify the owner of his/her right to appeal the decision.

Appeal Process

A business owner who is denied a waiver or exemption may appeal the decision by requesting an administrative hearing within 10 working days of receiving the Notice of Determination.  The Director of the Public Works Department (or his/her designee), who will serve as the hearing officer, will hear the appeal between 20 and 45 days after the receipt of the request.  After the hearing, the hearing examiner shall uphold, overturn, or modify the initial determination of the County. The County will subsequently send a letter formally notifying the business owner of the decision.

Where can I find more info for local businesses?

Check out the following links for additional resources on business recycling and waste reduction:

Where to go