General Information

Contact Dept

  • Phone:
    (559) 600-4078
  • Fax:
    (559) 600-4548
  • Address:
    Mailing: 2220 Tulare Street, 6th floor
    Fresno, CA 93721
  • Permits & Zoning::
    (559) 600-4540 Annex Upper Level at "M" and Tulare
  • Surveyor:
    (559) 600-4022
  • New Permits & Zoning Fax:
    (559) 455-4700
  • Email Department

Why Organics? | Grasscycling | Recipe for Compost | Types of Compost | Troubleshoot Compost  

Organics Header Organics and Green Waste Recycling
   What are Organics? What is Green Waste?  

Green Waste is considered the waste that is generated from your yard or lawn.  This is dead plants, leaves, lawn clippings, landscape trimmings, sticks and branches. The definition of Organics in regards to waste refers to all natural materials that can be composted, mulched, or are biodegradable. This includes Food and Garden Waste, and food soiled paper products.  So some items are both green waste and organics For viewing ease, we have placed a G for green waste and O for Organics


G  O

  Leaves    Food2    Food waste


Lawn clippings  

G  O

 Grass   Napkin   Food soiled paper products



Landscape trimmings, shrub or bush prunings  

G  O

Green Waste    Garden Waste    Garden waste  


Sticks, twigs, Branches  

G  O

Sticks   House Plant   Dead plants, house plants  

G  O

   Why does this matter?  

plant      All of the above items can be combined, decomposed, and composted, helping create rich soil nutrients and soil amendments, while reducing the need for landfills. Organic materials make up 40% of the waste annually sent to California landfills. Composting organic materials allow for them to naturally decompose unlike landfill operations that stop the decomposition process.  

When green waste and organic waste is sent to the landfill it does not actually decompose. This material is placed into the landfill and covered at the end of the day reducing the amount of oxygen available and preventing water from leaching into the refuse. The material is then put through a process known as compaction in which pressure is applied to minimize air and open space between refuse materials. This makes for a oxygen starved or anaerobic environment. This causes the organic material decomposition process to stop due to a loss of air and water to breakdown the organics. The process is known as compaction.  

Organics1826       Recycling organic waste can save Fresno County business and residents money, while creating and maintaining new jobs in our communities. If you currently use soil for commercial or residential projects, this allows for a potential reuse of natural materials.  

For Businesses:  

After April 1, 2016, the State of California will require businesses and multi-family residential to subscribe to an organics recycling program. For more information regarding Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling (MOR) Law, AB 1826, please click here.

For Residents:  

For Fresno County residents, green waste recycling is common in homes located on the valley floor. This is where a green bin is provided by your Exclusive Service Area Program (ESAP) Hauler or your city solid waste program. Those that live in the foothills and mountain areas of Fresno County may not have a green waste program. However, you can always look at the option of composting.

NOT READY FOR COMPOST? Here is another simpler option: GrasscyclingReciclaje De Pasto Send your Grass back to its roots!

     Recipe for Compostingts 

Composting can be practiced in most backyards in a homemade bin or piles. Bins, from simple wooden bins to plastic barrels, can be found at most hardware stores and gardening centers. There are also plans that can be found online for homemade pallet bins or chicken wire piles. Bins or piles should be a minimum of 3’x3’x3’ to insure proper composting. If you choose to compost food waste, it’s important to cover the pile and to refrain from an open pile, in order to avoid odors and pests. There are four basic ingredients for composting: nitrogen, carbon, water and air.  

Nitrogen   (Green Materials)
Nitrogen   Green materials such as grass clippings, landscape trimmings, wet food waste and garden waste are ideal sources for nitrogen. To reduce the potential for bugs and pests when placing meat and dairy in your bin, make sure to bury these items deep in the center of the pile. The use of a closed, anaerobic composting system is recommended when including meat and dairy food scraps. Approximately 40% of your bin or pile should consist of this material.  
Carbon   (Brown Materials)
Carbon   Dry materials such as leaves, twigs, hay, dead plants, and food soiled paper can provide carbon balance to the pile. Chop or shred large pieces to smaller than 12". Anything larger should be left out. If you use bones from food scraps, these will provide calcium to the pile. Approximately 60% of your bin or pile should consist of this material.  
Water   Your compost pile should contain 40%-60% moisture content. To test for this, reach into the pile and grab a handful of material. If you squeeze the material and a few drops of water come out, it should have enough water. When watering, make sure to water from the inside out.  

The bacteria and fungus that live in the compost pile need air to live and work. If the pile is too dense or too wet, air supply is cut off. To avoid this, make sure to rotate the material regularly to inject air into the center of the pile.  

 Types of Composting

Below are three different types of composting methods to compost your materials. Several methods are available depending on your level of expertise and time available for decomposition.  


Aerobic (with air)  

  Anaerobic (without air)     Vermicomposting
Description     Air is used to break down material using turning methods.     Materials are covered and not exposed to air.     Composting by using earthworms  
Level of Care     Moderate/High (Depends on Pile/Bin Size)     Low/Moderate (Depends on types of food waste)     Moderate (Bin will need to be constructed/ purchased)  
Advantages     Quick decomposition to prepare nutrient rich soil for gardens and flow beds. No smell with aerobic composting.     Will compost with little effort. Can add materials once or twice per week.     Can regularly open and add more materials to bin. Great for plant growth.  
Disadvantages     Maintenance of turning pile is needed daily. The pile would need to be a minimum of 3'x3'x3' to ensure proper decomposition.     Possible increase in smell if fatty food waste is added (meat, dairy). Once sealed, you must avoid opening bin regularly or process will stop. Do not add wood materials (sawdust, branches).     Worms are sensitive to temperature extremes. No meat, bones, or banana peels.  
Decomposition Time     Two to four Weeks     One to three months     One to four months  


Troubleshooting Guide for Composting Bins/Piles  

Symptom   Problem(s)   Solution  
The pile smells bad   Not enough air; OR too much moisture.   Turn the pile if not enough air OR add dry materials(aerobic). Recover the pile with a cloth or tarp (anerobic).  
The pile will not heat up   Not enough moisture; OR Pile is too small; OR Lack of nitrogen-rich material; OR Particle size is too big.   Add water; build pile to 3’x3’x3’; Mix in grass clipping or vegetable scraps; Chip or grind materials.  
The pile attracts flies, rodents or pets   Pile contains meat, bones, fatty or starchy foods that animals and pests can access.   Alter materials added to pile; bury food scraps deep in the middle of pile.  
Pile has slugs in it (and so does the garden)   Pile is easily accessible and provide daytime hiding and breed place for slugs.   Remove slugs and eggs (eggs look like clusters of pearls) create barriers or traps.  


Please call the Resources Division at (559) 600-4259 if you have any questions or need information about Composting. You can also email staff at