Zero Waste

What is Zero Waste?

Arcata is striving to achieve zero waste. Zero waste is a materials management approach that first prevents waste and then establishes reuse and recycling policies, programs, and infrastructure for all materials entering the community. The goal is to ensure that nothing is sent to a landfill or incinerator by ensuring that resources we take from the earth continue to be used efficiently without waste and excess burden on the environment. After you have done all you can to prevent waste and then reuse, download the materials management guide for City of Arcata residents to help responsibly manage your remaining waste. 

How do we get to Zero Waste? 

The Arcata City Council adopted a Zero Waste Action Plan written by Zero Waste Humboldt with input from Arcata citizens and businesses. The 10-year Plan identifies various waste prevention, reuse and recycling practices Arcatans can use to get as close as possible to zero waste.


The Zero Waste Action Plan outlines 8 implementation goals to help guide Arcata towards zero waste. The City of Arcata is currently striving for zero waste by fostering the following goals:

ZWAP Goals

What can I do to help?

  1. Prevent waste in your home and at your work.
  2. Recycle and compost whenever possible.
  3. Handle hazardous & special materials with care.

Useful Tips & Resources

Got Bulky Waste? Recology Arcata residential customers are entitled to two bulky item pick-ups per year at no extra charge! Collections are scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and you are allowed up to 2 cubic yards or 500 lbs in total per pick up. No single item can exceed 200 lbs. The following items are accepted for bulky item pick up: Appliances, furniture, carpets, mattresses, household appliances including refrigerators (freon removal fees apply and shall be charged to customer’s account), ranges, washers & dryers, water heaters, dishwashers, single item construction debris (doors, toilets, sinks, plumbing fixtures), lawn mowers (oil & fuel drained), up to 9 tires, and up to 2 cubic yards of bundled green waste. To schedule a pick up or get more information, call Recology Arcata at (707) 683-4853.
movingMoving? Don’t dump and run! Please do not leave “free boxes” at the curb. Items left outside become garbage, costing the City and therefore you, thousands of dollars annually. If thrift stores don’t/can’t take your items, make sure to take it to the appropriate disposal site. For more information on how to minimize waste during your move, download the Don’t Dump & Run Brochure
compost2Want to minimize food waste? The City of Arcata sells the Soil Saver, a backyard composting vessel for $35. This 32-inch tall composter is made out of 100% recycled material and includes a locking self-watering lid, 2 sliding doors, openings for aeration, and a free composting guide. The Soil Saver can be purchased at the City of Arcata Environmental Services Department. You must live within city limits and present water receipt/bill or rental contract/ receipt.

reusables SUD

Planning on eating out?  If you plan on eating out, make sure to pack some reusable containers to store any leftovers from the meal. If you’re getting takeout, use your own clean durable reusables instead of the food vendor’s takeout containers and get a $.25 discount, thanks to the Single Use Disposable Foodware Ordinance.  Learn more through the Single Use Disposable Foodware Ordinance Webpage where you can find Frequently Asked Questions and find fiber based alternatives to plastic.

Got recycling questions? What is and isn’t allowed in the curbside recycling bin? Download the Curbside Recycling Guideline to help you properly sort your recyclables. For more information about recycling, check out the main recycling and garbage page
junk mail
Are you sick of junk mail? Learn how you can reduce junk mail and minimize paper waste by downloading our junk letter infographic.
Looking for more information? Zero Waste Humboldt, a local non profit focusing on waste reduction solutions, is a great resource!

Zero Waste Fashion

California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) defines "textiles" as items made of thread, yarn, fabric, or cloth. Examples include clothes, fabric trimmings, draperies, and all-natural and synthetic cloth fibers. According to CalRecycle’s 2014 Waste Characterization Studymore than 1.24 million tons of textiles were disposed of in California landfills in 2014. Ninety-five percent of this material is actually reusable or recyclable. Click here to learn more about the environmental impacts of textiles and how to manage textile waste responsibly.