Recycling isn't just for man-made materials such as aluminum cans and glass bottles, said Carolyn Greene, waste planner for the city of Thousand Oaks.
Starting Monday, residents in three Thousand Oaks neighborhoods will also be asked to recycle their grass clippings, tree trimmings and other yard waste.
The pilot project, undertaken in cooperation with the city's three residential trash haulers, will last through Jan. 2.
Greene said yard waste is the largest single component of the city's residential garbage, accounting for 40% by weight.
The pilot project will involve 1,200 residences, or about 5% of all Thousand Oaks households. Greene said those households are expected to generate 30 to 35 tons of "green" waste every week.
The waste will be taken to the Worm Concern in Simi Valley, which processes organic garbage with the help of millions of earth worms. The waste will become mulch, humus and other soil additives, owner Richard Morhar said.
The city is paying the Worm Concern $8 per ton of waste, which Greene said is much lower than the cost of disposing of waste at landfills.
Greene said the pilot project had to be kept small because of the huge amount of waste involved.
The city will use the pilot project to try out three recycling methods.
In one area along McCrea Road and west of Erbes Road off Evenside Drive, Block Disposal will provide weekly pickup of 95-gallon containers that will be used only for yard wastes.
Although residents won't pay for the pilot program, Greene said the cost of providing extra trash containers could be prohibitive for a citywide program because it would raise monthly garbage bills by $1 a month.
In the neighborhood off Hendrix Avenue between Gainsborough and Janss roads, residents will provide their own trash cans but will label them with stickers provided by the city.
In Newbury Park south of Kimber Drive and west of Wendy Drive, the garbage hauler will alternate weekly pickups between yard wastes and recyclable cans, bottles and newspapers. The potential problem with that system, Greene said, is that "green wastes can get smelly" if left too long.
"Thousand Oaks residents have responded enthusiastically to every recycling program we have put out on the streets," Greene said. "This is no exception."