Oakland provides curbside pickup of Recycling, Compost & Trash. Landlords are required to provide separate bins to facilitate proper disposal, and waste management companies are very responsive about replacing/delivering bins as needed. Oakland has different bin requirements and pickup schedules for buildings of 1-4 units (Residential) and 5+ units (Multi-Family). More Info
Oakland's Strategy for Handling Waste
Reduce & Reuse: The collection and management of discarded goods required significant staffing, financial resources, and energy. Therefore, Oakland encourages residents to do what they can to Reduce the amount of materials that need to be discarded. This could mean changing shopping habits, changing usage habits, cancelling unwanted junk mail (another link), and finding creative ways to reuse items.
You can Reuse items yourself by shopping for secondhand items: Craigslist, Ebay, Amazon (refurbished/used items), Freecycle, thrift/consignment stores, and used furniture stores . For the creative, and for those with kids, there are lots of possibilities to make art (Some ideas on creative reuse; more.) Oakland offers free paint as a result of its paint recycling program. You can also help others Reuse items by donating to schools, art programs, or charities. Some local options: East Bay Depot for Creative Use; Generation Green's Dumpster Diversion Project; Lizland; & Scroungers' Center for Reusable Art Parts (SCRAP).
Recycle & Compost: Most of what you buy at the grocery store should make its way into the Recycle or Compost bin. Anything that can be melted down & made into new products can be recycled. Composting is nature's recycling of plant material. Food gets turned into soil, which can grow more food. The City of Berkeley completes this cycle by providing free compost back to gardeners with a Berkeley ID. Have any Berkeley friends?
Trash: This is the last resort! Very few things can't be Reused, Recycled or Composted. Throw them away, but try to pay attention to what goes in the bin. Can you find a way to Reduce those items?
City of Oakland's Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot page
What goes in which bin?
Recycling: Most metals, durable plastics, and (unsoiled) paper products go in the gray Recycling bin. Bottles, cans, newspaper, cardboard, magazines... Most paper products can be recycled, but if they're soiled they go in the green Compost bin. Glass that's not a bottle or jar can't be recycled, and goes in the trash. Details
Compost: Most food scraps, spoiled food, and yard trimmings go in the green Compost bin. Fats, oils & grease are especially important to dispose of here, rather than being poured down the drain. Details More Details
Trash: After Recycling and Composting, there should be minimal trash left to throw out. Diapers, pet waste, window glass, non-recyclable packaging (plastic films, etc.)...
Most of it can go in the bin, with some exceptions. Details
StopWaste.org has a nice interactive tool that helps find locations that recycle various products.
Diapers: These make up a huge proportion of trash volume. Unfortunately, human waste cannot be composted in a sanitary manner by the City, meaning single-use diapers must be placed in the trash, not the green bin. Alternatively, local company Earth Baby runs a diaper-composting service for a monthly fee.