The City of Palo Alto (population 67,400) is a leader in Zero Waste. In 2005, the City adopted a Zero Waste goal of 90% diversion of waste from landfills by 2021. The City’s Zero Waste Operational Plan, adopted in 2007, identified a number of initiatives that will help Palo Alto reach its Zero Waste goal. 

The City has implemented the major initiatives identified in the plan, including:

  • A Zero Waste collection contract
  • Universal recycle and compost collection at home, work, school, libraries and parks
  • Regional organics processing
  • Construction debris diversion requirements
  • Regional construction debris processing 

The City’s diversion rate increased from 62% in 2007 to 82% in 2016. “Diversion” includes all waste prevention, reuse, recycling and composting activities that “divert” materials from landfills.

The City’s 2018 Zero Waste Plan update identifies the new and expanded policies, programs and infrastructure that will be needed to reach this goal, including. 

  • Anaerobic digestion of compostable material
  • Deconstruction ordinance
  • Technical assistance to businesses and multifamily dwellings
  • Zero Waste Block Leaders and Zero Waste Champions programs
  • Support for Repair Cafés and share fairs
  • Extensive outreach and education
  • Mixed waste processing after source separation

The Zero Waste team within the Department of Public Works manages the collection contracts and implements the Zero Waste strategies. 

Palo Alto is on the Road to Zero Waste and has achieve an 84% diversion rate.


Zero Waste Palo Alto

Palo Alto Zero Waste Plan