Encinitas 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 send the least amount of waste to the landfill by ensuring that resources are used efficiently without waste and excess burden on the environment.

How Do We Get to Zero Waste?

The Encinitas City Council adopted a Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which includes the implementation of a Citywide zero waste program. Through the CAP strategy, the City’s goal is to reduce residents’ waste generation to 5.3 pounds per person per day (lbs./person/day) by 2020 and 3 lbs./person/day by 2030. Achieving this goal depends on the expansion of recycling and organics recycling programs and participation from Encinitas residents and businesses to reduce waste and increase diversion.

Track the City’s progress on it's zero waste goals on the Climate Dashboard website.

Surfrider's Ocean Friendly To-Go Program

SMALL Ocean Friendly To-GoThe City of Encinitas is partnering with Surfrider to help Encinitas restaurants and their customers reduce the amount of waste generated from take-out food.


  • A customer orders “Ocean Friendly To-Go”
  • Restaurant staff prepares the order on dine-in reusable dinnerware
  • The customer brings their own containers and bag and transfers the order themselves

The program is available to all Encinitas businesses. Resources are provided below. With questions, please contact [email protected] 

Ocean Friendly To-Go Signage

Ocean Friendly To-Go Staff Training Guide

Reusable vs Disposable Cost Savings Case Study 

Earth Smart Actions™


 The City of Encinitas has partnered with BCK Programs to launch Earth Smart Actions™, a guide to taking easy but meaningful environmental actions that can be accomplished from the safety of your home.

Earth Smart Actions™ Website

Earth Smart Actions™ Flyer

Check Out These Printable Resource Guides! 




Preventing Food Waste in Your Home Kitchen 

Steps to Being a Zero Waste Consumer Guide

Recycling Organics - What Should go in the Green Cart?

¿Qué debe ponerse en el bote verde?

"Green Wednesday" Webinar Series

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The City of Encinitas prides itself in being at the forefront of sustainability. The City is putting out the call to residents and businesses - help Encinitas waste less from land to sea! To learn more, check out the “Green Wednesday” webinar series! Topics will cover how to create a more zero-waste lifestyle, tips to reduce food waste, and an introduction to composting. 

Past webinars: (contact [email protected] for the recording)

City-wide Plastics Initiative

The City of Encinitas has identified plastic pollution as an environmental concern. It’s the number one source of debris found at local beaches during volunteer clean-ups! Plastic bottles, caps, straws, and utensils are polluting waterways and beaches – and threatening valuable local resources. 

Over the last year, City Council passed a total of three (3) ordinances to address specific plastic pollution sources including plastic straws, plastic utensils, plastic beverage containers, and expanded polystyrene products.  

City Plastics Initiative

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Textile Recycling

According to the EPA, Americans generate over 16 million tons of textile waste each year, with one of the poorest recycling rates of any reusable material. There are local options for Encinitas residents to recycle old clothes and textiles.

Textile Recycling Options

Restaurants: Reduce Costs and Waste with Reusables!

·       Reusable Food Servingware Guide

·       Single-use to Reuse Savings Calculator

·       Take-Out Food Containers: Environmental Ranking

·       UPSTREAM Solutions

Restaurants: Preventing Single-Use Serving Ware Waste

By replacing single-use serving ware with reusables, restaurants can save money while significantly reducing waste in the community. Additionally, restaurants may even be able to switch to a lower level of waste collection service, saving even more money.

The Clean Water Fund provides resources to restaurants and other food-serving businesses to aid them in reducing waste by shifting from single-use disposables to reusable serving ware. Please view their comprehensive Reusable Food Serving ware Guide to learn more.

The City would like to pilot a reusable takeout container program and is seeking restaurant partners. If you are interested in the program, please contact [email protected]



Cost Savings Calculator


Restaurants can easily calculate potential costs savings from switching to reusables by using the Single-use to Reuse Savings Calculator from UPSTREAM Solutions.

Click here to see potential cost-savings.

Simple Reusable Swaps!


Cup SwitchEvery small change to reduce waste is a beneficial one. Restaurants can begin swapping reusable items for disposables as it makes sense for their business. Here are a few small, but impactful changes for in-person dining

  • Plastic utensils -> silverware
  • Plastic salsa cups -> metal or ceramic salsa cups
  • Plastic or paper wax-lined beverage cups -> reusable plastic cups

For more examples, check out the Reusable Food Servingware Guide

COVID-19 and Reusables

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC),“The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person…between people who are in close contact with one another, through respiratory droplets.” In addition, “It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.” However, the CDC states that "spread from touching surfaces is not thought to be a common way that COVID-19 spreads" and that transmission of the virus from surface contact has never been documented.

Environmentally Preferable Takeout Containers

Takeout Container GuideIf a restaurant is not ready or currently able to make the switch to reusables, the City encourages the use of environmentally preferable single-use containers.

Take-Out Food Containers: Environmental Ranking

Additional Resources

Zero Waste Tips from I Love A Clean San Diego

Waste Diversion Guidelines for Events

Green Block Leader Volunteer Program

We need your help to make Encinitas a little greener!

Join the City of Encinitas for the Green Block leader Volunteer Pilot Program!

Volunteers will receive a ninety-minute zero waste training and a toolkit of resources. Then, they will use their sustainability knowledge to teach their neighbors and community about how to reduce waste, specifically through organics recycling.

What will you do as a Green Block Leader?

• Reach out to the community to let them know you are a resource for them.

• Answer questions regarding zero waste, the organics recycling program, and other waste-related sustainability topics.

• Share resources with information about how to reduce waste and how to properly recycle or dispose of materials.

• Distribute information about upcoming events, City news, and offerings.

What are the benefits of becoming a Green Block Leader?

• Be a part of the City's exciting new food scraps recycling program for residents and businesses

• Connect with others in Encinitas that care about preserving the environment

• Fight climate change by helping to reduce waste in the community

• Volunteer on your own time

Are you interested in volunteering*? Email [email protected] with the following information:

  • Your Name
  • Your Phone Number
  • Your Residential Community (New Encinitas, Old Encinitas, Olivenhain, Cardiff, or Leucadia)

City staff will get back to you as soon as possible.

*Participants must be 18 years or older and a resident of Encinitas.

Green Block Leader Resources

Green Block Leader Toolkit