Can I toss my food waste away in a paper bag under Sacramento mandate? Your question answered

Michael Tercha/TNS

Sacramento’s food waste program is a little over a year old and still, people have questions about how to comply in their household.

And The Sacramento Bee will keep answering them.

On Sunday, a reader wrote to our service journalism team, which focuses on answering community questions, curious if food waste can be stored in a paper bag and tossed in the organics bin for weekly collection.

The answer is yes — if done correctly.

Both the city and county’s residential food waste programs launched in July 2022 to be compliant with Senate Bill 1383, a California law that mandates all jurisdictions provide organic waste collection services to residents and businesses.

The goal is to reduce the state’s climate pollution to the point where it feels like 3 million cars have been taken off the road, according to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, also known as CalRecyle.

Your question answered

Food soiled paper is one of the many materials that should be recycled as organic food and green waste material.

Meaning, food scraps can be stored in a paper bag and tossed in your organics cart for pickup. Just be sure the material you choose is not coated in plastic.

Paper lunch or grocery bags are a good option.

Waste can also be collected in a coffee can, tube, plastic bucket, bowl or even an empty cereal box — but those materials cannot be placed in your bin.

Sacramento food waste mandate: How to comply, reduce odor and get a free compost bin

If the material isn’t compostable, empty your scraps loosely into a bin lined with leaves, newspaper or paper bags for easier cleanup. To reduce pests and odors, store your food scraps in the freezer or refrigerator until it’s time to dump them into the green waste container the night before collection.

What’s allowed in my green waste bin?

Before tossing any organic food waste material into the bin, remove stickers, twist ties and rubber bands from the produce.

Here’s what should be recycled as organic food and green waste material, according to the city’s website, which is similar to the county:

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps

  • Bread

  • Cereal

  • Dairy

  • Meat (including bones)

  • Shells (egg and meat)

  • Coffee grounds

  • Paper coffee filters

  • Tea bags

  • Uncoated food soiled paper: paper towels and napkins, paper plates, greasy pizza boxes, paper lunch bags Food scraps: moldy food, leftovers, rotting food

  • Green waste: branches, plants, mulch, grass, leaves, tree trimmings, pruning, clean lumber and wood scraps

What’s not allowed in my green waste bin?

Here’s what shouldn’t go into the bin, according to the website:

  • Plastic (including bags)

  • Diapers

  • Styrofoam

  • Glass

  • Metal

  • Liquids

  • Pet waste

  • Water hoses

  • Cooking oil

  • To-go coffee cups

  • Paper products lined with plastic wax or foil

  • Facial tissue and toilet paper

  • Single-use items made of compostable plastic (utensils, coffee pods and takeout containers)

What do you want to know about life in Sacramento? Ask our service journalism team your top-of-mind questions in the module below or email