California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Earth Day

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. ”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Message from the Director

Californians have long been at the leading edge of environmental protection. We’re informed about the effects of our actions, and we’re willing to take steps to soften our impact on the world around us. That mindset continues to fuel our forward movement in sustainability, such as our goal for 75 percent recycling statewide, technological advances in plastics recycling, and take-back programs for used mattresses. What better time than Earth Day to reflect on how far we’ve come and where the path leads us?

  • We’re moving forward on our nation-leading 75 percent recycling goal. CalRecycle is supporting research into more efficient ways to recycle even higher volumes of materials, from beverage containers to tires. We are working with stakeholders from waste management companies to research scientists on ways to divert even more material from landfills and recycle it into useful products.
  • Compostable organics comprises a third of California’s waste stream, and about 6 million tons of that is food waste. To reduce that waste and instead put it to beneficial use, commercial compost systems are being improved to break down organics more quickly and create less air pollution in the process. We’re also supporting exciting new advances involving converting food waste into clean energy. CalRecycle is helping these businesses expand to keep more organic material out of landfills and create the energy our state needs.
  • The governor recently signed Senate Bill 254, which establishes a mattress take-back program in the state. Mattresses have long been a problem both in landfills, due to their size, and when they are dumped illegally in rural and urban areas. CalRecycle will be working to help establish more appropriate end-of-life uses for mattresses, which are made of recyclable materials including wood, steel, and cotton fiber.
  • Electronic waste or “e-waste” comprises one of the most challenging segments of California’s waste stream. CalRecycle oversees efforts to make sure many e-waste products are properly recycled at the end of their useful life. Since California started its e-waste recycling program, more than 1.5 billion pounds of electronic waste have been diverted from landfills.

As the state’s leading authority on waste reduction, reuse, and recycling, we have the responsibility to take big steps. But the strides individuals take for the environment make a difference as well.

What additional steps can you take at home? Can you volunteer to help clean up your local parks and beaches for Earth Day? Maybe think about what you put in your garbage bin vs. what goes into your recycle bins. Could your purchasing decisions improve that ratio? Perhaps you could buy grains and other ingredients in bulk at the grocery store. Maybe it’s time to start composting at home or using composting made from your community’s green waste. And it’s definitely time to start carrying reusable shopping bags consistently.

Recycling, reducing household waste, and properly disposing of electronics and other materials at the household level have played a huge role in our progress, and sustaining such a “conservation lifestyle” will help move us toward our 75 percent goal. Together, we can lead the nation, and the global community, to a more sustainable future.

Happy Earth Day, California. Thanks for celebrating with us, and keep up the good work.

Caroll Mortensen

Last updated: April 1, 2014
Public Affairs Office, (916) 341-6300