Palo Alto – A Zero Waste Community

In 2005, the Palo Alto City Council adopted a goal of achieving Zero Waste (no waste to landfills) by 2021.

What is Zero Waste and how does it fit with Transition Palo Alto?

Transition Palo Alto is committed to building community, encouraging local resilience to cope with peak oil, and reducing carbon emissions to cope with climate change. One important means to address the economic, environmental and social costs of our oil-based economy is to adopt a Zero Waste approach individually and collectively.

All our “stuff”, whether reused, recycled, municipally-composted or landfilled, is dependent on fossil fuels and contributes to carbon emissions in its extraction, manufacture, production, transport, and discard.

Zero Waste takes a system/holistic approach to managing the flow of resources through society, rather than our current linear approach. Zero Waste is about designing products, services and packaging to minimize waste, creating incentives to encourage clean and sustainable products and enterprises, fostering both producer and consumer responsibility, investing in resource recovery facilities, strengthening local economies, and building community collaboration. See the interactive graphic of a Zero Waste System.

Check out the great 7-minute video, Zero Waste Systems, from Eco-Cycle Media.

How can you help the Palo Alto Community Achieve Zero Waste?

  • Maximize your participation in the City’s Zero Waste program offerings for residents, schools and businesses.
  • Go beyond recycling. Reduce the total amount of what you place at the curb in your blue, green and black cart/bin.
  • Create less landscape debris by adopting and implementing sustainable landscape practices.
  • Employ deconstruction practices (selective and careful dismantling of buildings for reuse), salvage building materials for reuse, and build for high performance and efficiency that minimizes waste generation, energy and water usage.
  • Support reuse and repair businesses.
  • Become an advocate for changing the current linear rules and system in favor of a cyclical Zero Waste system.
  • Visit the Transition Palo Alto events calendar for activities in and around Palo Alto and get involved.

Visit or call 650-496-5910 for information, tools and resources such as:

  • Recycling and composting how-to videos, online game, guides, posters, and newsletters
  • Sustainable landscaping and gardening workshops
  • Reuse directory (The Recyclopedia)
  • Compost giveaways
  • Reducing unwanted mail
  • Biennial citywide yard sale
  • Video blog
  • Event and party planning
  • Green Teams
  • Green Business certification
  • Advocacy for making producers responsible for products and packaging
  • Salvage for reuse and recycling construction and demolition debris

Contact GreenWaste of Palo Alto at 650-493-4894 regarding your services.

GreenWaste is the company hired by the City to provide collection services for residents, schools and businesses in Palo Alto. They can help with information, change service levels, coordinate recycling facility tours and provide technical assistance to help you get the most from their services. Environmental Outreach Coordinators are available to help you.