Managing and Transforming Waste Streams – A Tool for Communities

Procurement Best Practices: Mandatory Recycling and Composting

Some states and communities adopt mandatory recycling and composting laws and ordinances. Requiring all commercial and/or residential generators to recycle and/or compost means that local government or contractors must provide recycling and composting services to all customers.

Communities don't have to couple “exclusive” agreements with mandatory recycling. Some jurisdictions have structured “semi-exclusive” agreements where a limited number of permits are available; similar to how cities distribute taxi cab medallions. 

Alternatively, "universal roll-out" can be provided, meaning that recycling, composting and waste bins and services are provided to all customers, rather having separate recycling and compost collection service subscription from trash collection. Local governments can also require service providers to offer recycling and composting services to all garbage customers as a condition of providing services.

Case studies:


  • High diversion potential and equity: Providing mandatory recycling and composting ensures opportunities for waste diversion exist for all generators. 
  • Outreach efficiency: Mandatory programs allow clear messaging for all generators.
  • Economic benefits: Depending on the rate structure, those that reduce waste and recycle and compost more will generally save money, generate revenue from the sale of materials and reduce disposal costs.


  • Processing capacity needed: Some communities do not have enough capacity at permitted local recycling and composting processing facilities to support mandatory recycling and composting.