Diversion Story

“Costco’s Waste Diversion Program is defining the green business standard.”

As a result of this effort, participating warehouses are diverting more than 80% of their waste stream from landfills, to composting and recycling. The program has won county and state environmental awards, such as COSTCO earning green business certification.

The success of this program stems from member participation, employee innovations and a partnership with the University of California, Berkeley.

“Waste Diversion” means re-directing materials away from the landfills and sending them to recycling or composting facilities. In order to achieve diversion, each building undergoes infrastructure changes- adding red (trash), blue (recycling) and green (compost) receptacles, addition of informational signage, and a second compacter for organics collection.

Rather than taking up space in landfills, diverted materials become commodities as they are converted into valuable end products. Recyclable materials are made into new containers such as bottles or cans, reducing the need for raw non-renewable resources, and organic materials are processed into rich soil products, such as compost to improve soil quality for agriculture and landscaping.

The resultant compost from Costco’s Waste Diversion Program is packaged as a potting soil called Soil Cycle, that members can purchase for their gardens, thus brining the organic waste full circle.

Costco’s Waste Diversion Program is redefining what’s possible in regards to diverting waste from landfills. The Bay Area Regional program represents sustainable waste management and has the potential to disseminate company-wide, bringing diversion to all Costco warehouses and setting the green standard for other businesses.

Program Highlights

• 80% of the trash stream is diverted from landfills
• Member participation
• Setting the green business standard
• Community environmental benefit
• Award winning program
Program Awards
• Green Business Certification (three locations)
• 2009 Business Recycler of the year (Recology, South Valley)
• 2009 Alameda County StopWaste Partnership Program Award

Sorting Guide

What is Compostable?
Compostable items include all organic waste—anything that was alive during your lifetime. This includes food scraps and soiled paper (paper that was in contact with food). Examples; pizza crusts, paper cups, soiled cardboard, spoiled produce, and paper towels.

What is Recyclable?
Recyclable items include all hard plastic containers marked number 1-7, office paper, and glass and metal containers. Examples; Plastic: clean frosting tubs,
water bottles, and food court salad clamshells; Paper: magazines, computer paper, and newspapers; Metal: pie tins, and soda and olive cans.

What is Trash?
Only if an item is neither compostable nor recyclable is it considered trash. All
trash items are sent to landfills to be buried. Examples; hairnets, latex gloves,
candy bar wrappers, paper with foil backing (hot dog wrapper), and paper with plastic backing (condiment packets).