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Solid Waste & Recycling

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Orange garbage truck in neighborhoodWaste is something one may never think about again once the plastic bag is tied and thrown into the trash bin, loaded onto the garbage truck, and sent to the landfill. But at the landfill, our trash releases methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, as it decomposes. Additionally, what is currently sent to the landfill can be repurposed to become a resource in the circular economy.


What we are doing:

To combat the impacts of waste on our environment, Tempe has a wide variety of Solid Waste programs to improve upon

  • recycling
  • composting practices
  • ensuring that trash, recycling, and green waste are disposed of properly
  • teaching residents more about the recycling methods specific for Tempe

In addition to the city saving money by having informed residents, the residents themselves will save money with city incentives, like the SMART program that reduces the cost of curbside pick-up, leading them to learn more about waste reduction strategies and emit less GHG emissions. Investing in better Solid Waste operations is instrumental to keep trash out of the landfill to save the environment, money, and resources. 

Performance Measures

Solid Waste Diversion (4.04)

“Achieve or exceed the Council adopted Solid Waste diversion rates by the year 2020.”

Baseline: (FY 17/18): Residential – 21.7% / Commercial – 9.2% / Citywide – 15.1%Current: (FY 2019): Residential – 22.8% / Commercial – 24.2% / Citywide – 23.5%
Target: Residential – 40% / Commercial – 25% / Citywide – 25%

Composting Usage (4.12)

“Achieve a cumulative composting usage across city parks, golf courses, and right-of-way of 2,000 yards per year.”

Baseline: 500 yards
Current: 2,026.44 yards
Target: 2,000 yards by 2020

Program Highlight 

SMART (Save Money and Recycle Tempe)

SMART DiagramSMART is a new voluntary program for curbside trash services where residents can save money by choosing a smaller trash bin, thus promoting more recycling, to help the environment. There is an option to downsize to either a 65-gallon or a 48-gallon trash bin from the standard 96-gallon bin, with the standard 96-gallon holding 6--7 white kitchen bags, the medium 65-gallon holding 4--5 kitchen bags, and the small 48-gallon holding 2--3 kitchen bags. As of December 2018, approximately 2,600 residents are taking part in the SMART program by switching to the 65- or 48-gallon trash bins. By taking part in the program, residents can save about $40 per year by switching to the 65-gallon can and nearly $65 per year when switching to the 48-gallon bin. Monthly, these Tempe residents will save a combined $12,000. This program can lead to residents producing less waste, encouraging more of them to recycle, saving them money on their monthly bill, and helping Tempe reach the City Council Performance Measure for residential waste diversion.

What's Next


The city will continue to look at potential partnerships with Phoenix and neighboring municipalities to tackle local waste and recycling issues together.


Tempe will continue to seek improvement in our outreach and communication about waste, recycling, and hazardous waste. 

Additional Resources

Residents can call 480-350-5860 to order their 48- or 65-gallon SMART trash container.

Remember that shredded paper, appliances, electronics, construction waste, building supplies, and scrap metal CANNOT be recycled in Tempe. Keep these products out of the curbside recycling bin and look at for more information on where these products can be properly recycled.

In addition to the above items, bagged recyclables (always keep recyclables loose) CANNOT be recycled. 



Household Products Collection Center (Household Hazardous Waste)