Anything that enters the storm drain system, including liquid and solid restaurant waste, flows untreated into creeks and ends up in the ocean. Dumping anything into a creek, gutter, or storm drain is illegal under The California Uniform Retail Food Facilities Law , California Penal Code 374 , County Code 17 and Storm Water Management and Discharge Control Ordinance .

By following the guidelines below, your business can help prevent pollution and attract customers. A clean restaurant and well-informed employees contribute to a great dining experience, and your employees and patrons will appreciate your leadership in implementing practices that protect environmental health.  Download our guide to Best Management Practices in English and Spanish.

Cleaning and Disposal

  • Wash floormats, kitchen mats, filters and garbage cans in a mop sink, janitorial sink or near the kitchen floor drain. These receptacles drain to the sanitary sewer where waste is treated. Do not wash items in a parking lot, alley, sidewalk or street because these areas drain to the storm drain system.
  • Pour wash water into a mop or janitorial sink and never pour it onto paved areas outside.
  • Recycle grease and oil. Do not pour it into sinks, drains, dumpsters or onto a parking lot or street where it can enter the sewer or storm drain system and cause clogs.
  • Sweep up food particles, cigarette butts and trash from outside areas before rinsing or steam cleaning. When rinsing, mop up excess water and empty this water into a janitorial sink, kitchen floor drain or toilet.
  • If you pressure wash your outdoor seating area, entrance or surrounding sidewalk area with bleaches, strippers or detergents, do not allow any of this water to flow into the gutter.
  • When cleaning trash containers or enclosures, do not allow bleaches or detergents to drain into the parking lot, street or gutters.
  • Ensure that only wash water goes into the sanitary sewer. Remove all trash, waste and dirt and dispose of them in a trash container.

Spill Prevention and Clean Up

  • Use dry methods for cleaning up outdoor spills. For example, use cat litter to soak up spills or sweep up spills rather than rinse them.

Grease Management

  • Clean grease traps at least once a week. Some traps require more frequent cleaning; therefore, adjust as necessary.
  • Collect bulk grease in containers and contact a firm to haul them away. The grease will be recycled into a useful product. See below for more information on recycling grease.
  • Do not pour grease into trash bins, street gutters, storm drains or sewers. Grease can clog sewer and storm drain lines causing blockage and spills. It is illegal to put anything but storm water down the storm drain. Violators are subject to fines and legal action under California Penal Code 374 and County Code 17.
  • Regularly maintain grease traps or interceptors. Obtain the receiving station manifest from grease haulers to make sure they dispose of grease at an approved facility.

Dumpster and Loading Dock Areas

  • Keep dumpster and grease barrel lids closed. This prevents rain water from washing food waste into the storm drain and keeps birds and pests from scattering trash.
  • Keep dumpster areas tidy.
  • Keep dumpsters or dumpster enclosures locked to prevent illegal dumping. Contact your refuse service for keys and locks.
  • Carry all trash to dumpsters in tied-off plastic bags in order to keep dumpsters free of food debris. Never place liquid waste or leaky garbage bags into a dumpster.
  • Do not hose out a trash can or dumpster interior in areas that drain to the street or storm drain system. Use an absorbent such as kitty litter to collect spilled fluids from the container.
  • Sweep debris out of a trash container before scrubbing and rinsing. Scrub with a non-toxic soap and then rinse the residue into a sanitary sewer drain.
  • Leaking and dirty dumpsters and compactors should be serviced by the leasing company.
  • Have clean up materials readily accessible near the dumpster or loading dock area in case of accidental spills.

Recycling Reduces Waste

  • Create and maintain a system for separating waste products. Make sure that recycle bins are easily accessible to staff and patrons.
  • Separated recycleables including paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum, tin and some plastics should be sent to a recycling center.
  • Grease and oil wastes can be recycled through a rendering or grease collection company. Companies can be found in the yellow pages of the phone book.
  • Purchase recycled products or products with a high recycled material content.

Minimize Toxicity and Waste

  • Use the least toxic cleaning products available.
  • Dispose of cleaning agents and rags properly. For disposal information, call the Community Hazardous Waste Collection Center at (805) 882-3602.
  • Avoid using disposable items such as paper or plates plates and plastic utensils whenever possible. Check with County Environmental Health Services at (805) 681-4900 to ensure that your facility is approved for the use of multi-use utensils such as metal flatware or china or glass plates.
  • If you must use disposable products, choose paper when possible.

Inform Your Employees!

  • Hold staff meetings to discuss the importance of pollution prevention.
  • Share the tips on this page with your employees.
  • Clearly label areas where mat washing is and is not permitted.
  • Clearly label areas where wash water may not be dumped.
  • Post reminders near dumpsters that remind employees to keep liquid waste out of dumpsters.
  • Train employees in the use of spill clean up materials. Log training sessions (date, instructor, attendees, etc.) for compliance with your Injury, Illness and Prevention Program.
  • Post the Project Clean Water poster to remind your employees about good cleaning practices. Call (805) 568-3546 to receive a free poster.
  • Make pollution prevention part of your employee performance rating.

Other Resources