Recycling has been extremely popular in Davis for years and is virtually expected of all who pass through this town. From yard waste to energy and technology, both the city and community strongly support efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle materials. There is a goal for Davis to achieve Zero Waste by 2020. Most recycling efforts within the City of Davis are handled by Recology, who also takes care of our garbage pick up. The Davis Recyopedia has a searchable online database for local reuse and recycling options, and it explains how to properly dispose of everything to minimize the waste impact.
For those on Campus, virtually a city within the city, UC Davis has its own systems for recycling. The UC provides a basic overview of what goes in the recycling bins on campus, as well as its own searchable list of how to recycle or properly dispose of everything on campus. Campus also participates in Recyclemania, a ten-week college recycling competition. There are also various programs and student organizations such as Waste Reduction and Recycling and Project Compost.
A commonly propagated urban legend is that Davis was the first city with curbside recycling services. This is not true; Davis started curbside recycling in 1974, while Madison, Wisconsin had already started doing it in 1967. Davis and its inhabitants are very recycling friendly, however.
Whenever possible, residents are encouraged to reduce consumption before assuming that items can be recycled. For example, you can try to opt out of various junk mail.
Energy Conservation is one of the simplest areas we can reduce consumption and there's the added incentive of lower energy bills! If you haven't already converted your household to compact fluorescent fixtures, get with the program! Sure, the bulbs have a higher initial cost, but a much longer life than incandescent bulbs. Compact fluorescents can be used in most light fixtures designed for incandescent bulbs and put out far more light for their wattage.
Contamination of recycling bins with garbage is a huge problem. Mixing garbage with recycling significantly increases the cost of recycling by requiring workers to hand sort the entire bin; this decreases the cost benefit to such a degree that it's cheaper for most recycling organizations to simply toss the entire bin as waste material.
Please don't put any paper or Styrofoam coffee cups in recycling bins. Don't put trash or food waste in recycling bins. It STINKS when we pick it up and if the contamination is significant (sour milk from a coffee) we must trash the whole bin.
We're fortunate to enjoy curbside pickup of recyclable materials in Davis, ranging from yard waste to plastics and cardboard. This is a service that is not offered in many, if not most, American cities. Please check with your landlord, a neighbor, or the City of Davis Recycling Program to find out what day of the week recyclables will be picked up in your neighborhood. Bulky items can be brought to Recology during the free Bulky Items Drop-off Days, which occur every spring. Contact Recology to find out when the next event is, or ask for a special pick-up (fees will apply).
The City of Davis, in conjunction with Recology, provides three bins to each household: a variable sized trash bin, a green waste bin, and a 65 gallon recycling bin that is divided for paper (not including cardboard) and glass, plastics, and metals. Now all plastics, including plastics #1-#7 can be placed in the recycling cart and are recycled. It used to be that only #1 and #2 plastics could be placed in the recycling bin and plastics #3, #5, #6, and #7 had to be dropped at Davis Waste Removal for recycling 24/7. Plate and automobile glass are not recyclable and should be discarded as garbage. Recyclable materials are delivered to the Recology facility on 2nd Street where it is sorted by hand, bundled, and sold to recycling plants.
Yard material, or green waste such as landscape prunings and grass, can be piled on the street just outside of the gutter once a week. Piles should be no more than 5'x5'x5', but residents can create as many piles as needed. Davis Waste Removal collects yard materials once a week on Monday. They will only pick-up yard material piles that are located directly in front of a house. Do not place your yard material pile across the street or around the corner from your house—it will not be picked up!
To make disposal of yard material easy for you and safe for others, please place your yard material 18” from the curb or gutter. Please be sure that your pile does not block fire hydrants, driveways or sidewalks. Do not park you car on top of yard waste piles (this may seem like a silly reminder, but hey—people actually do this!) Be aware that your yard material piles can create serious hazards for cyclists; BIKE LANES SHOULD NEVER BE BLOCKED!!!
Acceptable materials for disposal include: grass clippings, brush, leaves, prunings, weeds, discarded floral displays, indoor plants, branches (less than 8 inches in diameter) and Christmas trees. Do not place yard waste in a plastic bag or any other container.
Please do not place sod, soil, concrete, fruit, flowerpots, florist wire, fencing, bricks or stumps in yard material piles. Try composting your fruit yourself. Disposal information for other items can be found in the City of Davis Recyclopedia.
Please be aware that logs and wood building materials are not considered yard waste! One day each week, a truck and scooper circle Davis neighborhoods, scooping up piles of yard waste into the truck. The drivers handling scoopers are amazingly accurate, and while it's not recommended to create piles between vehicles, scoop drivers can pick up a load within a foot of a car and never touch the vehicle! Yard waste is delivered to a compost facility where it is chipped and composted.
Streets are swept every week, usually the day following brush pick-up. In order to take advantage of this service, please park your car off street on your sweeping day. Check out the Street Sweeping Map to find out what day your streets are swept. These street sweepers cost the city of Davis approximately $700,000/year.
If you don't want to leave your yard material out in the street for pick-up, or if you have a lot of fruits and veggies (which are not allowed in piles on the street), try backyard composting. The [www.DavisRecycling.org City of Davis Recycling Program] offers a free compost correspondence course for Davis residents. Davis residents in single family homes are eligible for a compost bin for just $10 when they complete the course. Call the Public Works Department at 530-757-5686 to sign up.
If you live at an apartment property with ten or more units, you should receive communal recycling service. Recycling carts should be located in or near your trash enclosures. Most complexes have two carts: one for mixed paper and one for plastic, glass and metal containers. Flatten cardboard boxes and stack them next to the recycling carts.
Most apartments properties in Davis have an iBIN (in-apartment recycling bin) in each unit. These iBINs make it easier for residents to collect and transport recycling from their apartments to the recycling carts in their community's trash enclosure. You may have seen the iBIN posters around your apartment: "Have you been recycling? iBIN recycling! With my in-apartment recycling bin!"
iBINs were available at no cost to multi-family properties in Davis. Interested apartment residents, property managers, home owners associations and other multi-family community leaders and residents were encouraged to contact the City of Davis Public Works Department at 757-5686 or via email ([email protected]) with your property name, address and number of units, to see if your property qualified to receive iBINs for your residents.
More information about the iBIN Recycling Program.
Creative Recycling & Reuse
- Bicycle Recycling
- Dumpster Diving
- Freshmen Move Out Day
- Thrift Stores Buy used or donate still usable items! Each year the average American throws out 63 pounds of textiles.
- University Construction dumpsters are great for building materials
- Bring a reusable plate/cup/spoon to the CoHo or any dining establishment that uses disposables.
- Davis Freecycle(TM) group - a grassroots movement of people who Freecycle by giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns.
- The Davis Senior High School special ed. dept. is conducting an electronic recycling fundraiser. Contact Debbie Press for more info.
For an extensive listing of where to take all sorts of different materials, see the Recycling and Donation Directory.
Cans & Bottles
Most all cans and bottles we purchase in California have a surcharge, known as the California Refund Value (CRV), added into their price. It's 5¢ for containers less than 24oz and 10¢ for containers 24oz or greater. You can redeem this CRV surcharge by bringing your cans and bottles to certain places:
- Recology - located on Second Street, roughly behind the cop shop. CRV buyback hours are Mon-Fri 9:30am - 2:00pm, Sat 8:00am - 4:00pm.
- V.Lopez, 400 Mace Blvd.
If you're not particularly interested in receiving your CRV deposit back, recycling bins can be found throughout town and all over campus; these bins typically have a small round opening, just large enough for the typical soda can or bottle.
According to Davis Municipal Code 32.01.060, it is illegal to remove recyclables from the recycling carts—technically, these scavengers are stealing. Scavengers are not only stealing from Davis Waste Removal, they’re stealing from the residents and business owners of Davis, because the revenue generated from the sale of recyclables goes directly back to the rate payers in the form of lower service rates. Recycling service is provided at no extra cost to Davis ratepayers because the revenue from the recyclables subsidizes the cost for the collection. When scavengers steal the recycling, however, they remove that revenue and cut the funding to the recycling program. (More information).
All rigid plastics, including plastics #1-#7 can be placed in the recycling carts. Rigid plastics are plastics that keep their shape. This includes plastic buckets, flower pots, utencils, caps, lids, toys, clothes hangers...you name it. Larger plastic items such as lawn furniture and large outdoor toys (plastic play kitchens, slides, etc.) can be dropped off at Davis Waste Removal for recycling. These items should NOT be placed in the recycling carts: plastic bags, film or wrap, Styrofoam, expanded polystyrene (food take-out containers, packing foam, packing peanuts), electronics, tires, hoses and other non-plastics. If in doubt, put it in the trash because contamination of recycling bins with waste increases the cost of recycling to the point that it's cheaper to discard the entire bin-load than sort out garbage.
Prior to 2011 only #1 and #2 plastics were accepted in the recycling bins.
#2 and #4 plastic grocery bags can be recycled at Save-Mart (near the west entrance), at the West Covell Safeway and at both Nugget Markets. Nugget Market will take any clean, dry plastic bag for recycling.
Starting July 2007, all major grocery stores are required to take back their plastic grocery bags for recycling (State Law AB 2449). Look for a recycling bin at major grocery stores and recycle your plastic grocery bags!
Styrofoam peanuts (and usually bubblewrap) are always welcomed for reuse at PDQ downtown, and most other stores that ship things for you, like the UPS Store, Pak Mail, etc. Large bricks or molded Styrofoam casing generally isn't, although they do accept it occasionally. Although bulky, it is easy to bike a bag or box of peanuts there on your way home, since they're so light (but surprisingly expensive).
CDs can be recycled at Armadillo Music, located downtown. Additionally, you can use them to make coasters, reflectors or disco balls. You can now put them in your Davis Waste Removal recycling cart for recycling.
Hazardous Materials & Technological Waste
Batteries, cellular phones and computers contain materials that are considered hazardous waste, and require special recycling/disposal methods. Included in this category are paints, solvents, household cleaners, used cooking oil and automobile fluids. Luckily, our local community is motivated enough that all these can be easily recycled locally. Any Hazardous materials and wastes that don't have a place below can be taken to the Yolo County Central Landfill during weekly (used to be monthly) household hazardous waste collection events. Not sure if something is hazardous waste? Check out the the City of Davis Recyclopedia.
Fluorescent Light Bulbs
ALL fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, and as such, they CANNOT be placed in the trash. In February 2006, the Department of Toxic Substance Control ruled that fluorescent light bulbs/tubes, batteries and electronics are hazardous waste and cannot be thrown away in the trash. When your fluorescent bulb burns out, please be responsible and bring it to a free Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Day at the Yolo County Central Landfill. The landfill is planning on accepting bulbs all the time, but doesn't have the facility yet. Starting July 1, 2009, the Yolo County Central Landfill will accept fluorescent bulbs and tubes for recycling every day during normal operating hours. Bring the fluorescent bulbs and tubes to the scale house. There is a $2.00 convenience charge regardless of the number of bulbs/tubes you bring in. Alternatively, take them to Ikea or Home Depot.
Due to the hazard of mercury in each fluorescent light bulb, it is highly debatable whether or not they are more environmentally friendly than an incandescent light bulb. The EPA estimates that a typical power plant emits 10 mg of mercury in the process of making enough energy to power an incandescent light bulb for the duration of its life, compared to only 2.4 mg of mercury. Sure, when you add that a fluorescent bulb contains about 4 mg of mercury, the incandescent bulb still seems to have more overall mercury. That is until you consider the fact that most of the energy used in Davis comes from green sources (solar, biomass and hydro power), not from the typical coal burning, mercury releasing power plants that the EPA is referring to! In Davis at least, switching your incandescent bulbs to fluorescents should not be toted as the best thing you can do for the environment. —Actually, commenter, Davis' green power production is on the grid — if we use less power through better bulbs, the green power can displace other power from Sacramento or Solano; if we use more than our green generation produces, we have to buy from the nuke plants or other sources. Also, the mercury in the bulb is reused, not released to the environment if the bulb is recycled. The mercury from power generation goes right into the air.
Automotive Oil can be recycled in a large vat located at Davis Waste Removal's 2nd Street facility. This vat is available 24-7, so there's no excuse to dump that oil in the gutter or elsewhere! Used motor oil and oil filters can be recycled for free at O'Reilly Auto Parts, Speedee Oil Change & Tune Up, Jiffy Lube, Davisville Express Lube, Davis Waste Removal, AAMCO Transmission. More information about recycling used motor oil.
Nearly all types of batteries (maybe not a potato) are considered hazardous waste and should never be put in the garbage! Consumers can properly dispose of batteries in Davis at ACE Hardware, both CVS Stores (used to be Longs Drugs), both Rite Aid Stores, Hibbert Lumber, Aggie Ace, Nugget, Davis_Food_Co-op and the Senior Center. If you live on campus, you can bring your batteries to one of the Multi-bins on campus. All batteries must be sorted by type (alkaline, lithium and rechargeable) BEFORE you bring them to a site to be recycled. Place each type into a separate plastic baggie for easy handling. More on proper battery disposal.
Cell phones can be recycled at any store that sells cell phones. Check out Call2Recycle to find a location in Davis that accepts cell phones and rechargeable batteries for recycling. The Multi-bins on campus also take cell phones, as does the Yolo County Central Landfill. Some non-profit groups will accept them for use as emergency phones for citizens in need.
Electronics such as TVs and computer monitors are considered to be e-waste and should not be placed with garbage destined for the landfill. These, as well as CPUs, keyboards, typewriters, cellular phones, fax machines, stereos, VCRs, blenders etc. can be recycled at the Goodwill Express or Yolo County Central Landfill free of charge. Microwaves are now accepted for free, but there is a fee to recycle refrigerators and other large appliances.
Ink-jet cartridges can often be refilled for half the cost of buying a new one. You can have your ink cartridges refilled at OfficeMax, or swap them for professionally recycled cartridges at Aggie Express without having to wait. UC Davis Campus offers inkjet and toner cartridge recycling for departments through the Storehouse. You can also throw them into a Multi-bin on campus. Or, you can trade them in for a ream of paper at OfficeMax. There's also Cartridge World downtown on 2nd Street. Check out more recycling options for printer cartridges at the City of Davis Recyclopedia.
Pens and Markers
UC Davis will accept any plastic-encased device: pens, mechanical pencils, markers and highlighters (the caps too!); however, nothing encased in wood or metal is accepted. Put your pens in an envelope (intra-campus or off-campus) and address them to "Pen Recycling." Details here.
Recology maintains large bins in the parking lot of its 2nd Street facility where community members can recycle items such as scrap metal 24/7. Scavenging used to not be actively discouraged and some people left with as much as they brought to the facility. Plastics (#1, #2, #3, #5, #6 and #7), paper, cardboard, glass containers, aluminum and steel cans can also be dropped off for recycling.
Reusable items can be donated to a local thrift store or charity or can be given away by advertising in the free section of the Davis Enterprise classifieds.
Rigid plastics, such as outdoor furniture, children’s toys, sand boxes and play equipment can be placed in your recycling bin (if it fits) or recycled for free at Recology and at the Yolo County Central Landfill in the rigid plastics recycling bin.
Wood waste, including pallets, wood furniture, wood fencing, construction wood waste, tree trimmings, tree stumps (no dirt attached), lumber scraps, and sometimes even yard waste can be brought to the Woodland Biomass Facility for free. No pressure treated or creosote wood. No wood with lead-based paint. Material is accepted based on current feed stock needs, so please call ahead to confirm material acceptance. Call the Biomass Facility at 530-661-6095 for more information.
Individuals who currently subscribe to handicapped trash service can call Davis Waste Removal for a special pick-up appointment. As always, Davis Waste Removal offers special pick-up service for a fee to residents who wish to dispose of a bulky item. You can also take your unwanted materials to the Yolo County Central Landfill; standard fees will apply.
Still not sure how to recycle or dispose of something? Check out the City of Davis Recyclopedia for ways to reuse and recycle over 150 different items from dining tables to old bicycles.
Bulky Items Drop-Off Days are held annually in April at Davis Waste Removal, 2727 2nd Street. See http://recycling.cityofdavis.org/elements-of-the-city-recycling-program/bulky-item-drop-off-events/bulky-item-drop-off-days for dates, hours and details.
Where does it Go?
The Portland Tribune ran an article that pointed out that most of the paper recycled on the west coast is loaded into ships bound for China. China has been subsidizing local and foreign paper companies in China to the tune of tens of billions of dollars, shutting down local paper companies. The article cites this, plus their rising middle class and it's appetite for paper products like newspapers and books, in creating a heavy export of paper that the west coast places into recycle bins.
- Aggie Express
- Davis Recycling
- Davis RISE
- Davis Waste Removal
- Island Ink-Jet
- Nonprofit Recycling and ReUse Network Recycle and Reuse Computers and Electronics for Education and Charity
- Project Compost
- R4 Recycling
- Residence Hall Move-In Recycling Drive
- Yolo County Central Landfill
- Yolo Energy Efficiency Project
- INTCO recycling
2012-05-24 13:18:10 Anyone else noticing a disturbing increase in the number of people taking recyclables out of their cans? I live out in Mace Ranch, and every Thursday for the past few months I've been awoken by someone going through our neighborhood's cans. At first I took a kind of live and let live approach to it, but now it's really starting to bug me. I'm going to take a picture of the guys next time (it's either this guy with a grey early 2000s model Honda Civic coupe with a big wing on it or this new guy I just saw today). I got a picture of the Civic guy a few weeks ago, but I wasn't able to make out his license plate number. This new guy drove a car, too, but I wasn't able to see what kind.
Has anyone else had to do this? Were you able to actually get these people to stop by reporting it to DWR or the police? —CecilioPadilla
2012-06-12 15:39:38 Thanks for bringing this up Cecilio. The City Recycling Program has a webpage about scavenging. It is illegal and the police are cracking down on it. If you see someone removing recyclables from a cart or bin, get the license plate number of the vehicle and a detailed description of the individual. Take a picture (if you can and it is safe to do so), send the picture to [email protected], and call the non-emergency police number (747-5400) to report the crime immediately. —jgilbert
2012-07-25 23:02:29 Regarding late night can pilfering in Mace Ranch, just had the opportunity to meet one of the "offenders." Haggard looking 83 year old immigrant. Obviously in need of additional income. I printed out the city's page jgilbert linked to in the comment above. Passed on some cans I had that hadn't yet become the city's property. His age and financial status make it nearly impossible for him to have known that the city is advising police should be called in his case. —Darcie
2012-08-31 14:50:34 I'm surprised that there is no place in Davis to recycle a CFL bulb. I have to drive my bulb all the way to the Yolo landfill in Woodland on a Friday or Saturday. Apparently Ace Hardware used to accept them, but no longer. —LaurenSutton
Ikea in West Sacramento takes them. I'm also surprised that there's nothing local, though. —TomGarberson
2012-11-26 11:30:54 Just a note about the other surrounding cities that have "local" recycling options for CFLs—these collection programs are NOT paid for by the cities, but all paid for by big box stores—IKEA, Home Depot, etc. Since Davis has none of these stores, Davis does not have a CFL recycling option. It is VERY expensive to recycle CFLs and no local business is interested in footing the bill at present. The County used some grant funds in 2007 to try to set up a local take back option. Davis Ace Hardware agreed to take back CFLs and fluorescent tubes, but only as long as a State grant would pay for the disposal. Once the grant funds were gone, Davis Ace stopped taking bulbs. Garbage rates already include the cost of recycling CFLs at the landfill during the free HHW drop-off days. Any additional program paid for by the City would mean an increase in garbage rates to pay for it. —jgilbert
2013-01-20 17:10:44 If you lookup the Woodland Biomass facility on google, you get the Woodland wiki which says they're open 7 days a week dawn to dusk. We went today (a Sunday)- they are closed and the sign says they only accept wood 9-5, doesn't list days, but apparently closed on Sunday. Their phone message says they're open 9-4 M-F. Also, google maps navigated us to a site west of the freeway, which is wrong. —JaneBF
2015-05-27 19:00:39 I'm looking for some mounting parts (mainly, screws) for my Dell laptop. Anyone know where old laptops are disposed of for recycling either in the UC campus or elsewhere, where I could look? Thanks. —Tranquilator
Does anyone know what happened to the Savemart recycling program?
Only that it's gone from the parking lot (and the domain of the last organization to run it is for sale, as of Nov. 2017) -DougWalter
2021-06-07 16:06:21 Just contacted Woodland Biomass Facility and they informed me that they no longer accept wood waste. —TristanEifler
2021-06-07 16:06:26 Just contacted Woodland Biomass Facility and they informed me that they no longer accept wood waste. —TristanEifler