The Legislature and Governor Brown set an ambitious goal of 75 percent recycling, composting or source reduction of solid waste by 2020 calling for the state and the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) to take a statewide approach to decreasing California’s reliance on landfills. This represents the next evolutionary phase of waste management in California: an approach that makes current landfill diversion programs equal partners with materials management program to achieve the highest and best use of all materials in California. These goals cannot be met without motivation and action at multiple levels within both the private and public sectors. This mindset is also reflected in ongoing reforms within the Beverage Container Recycling Program to safeguard the recycling fund, combat fraud and maximize resource use.

75 Percent Strategy Published

The Report to the Legislature puts forth five strategies and three additional focus areas that can be pursued by the department, Administration or Legislature to reach the 75 percent recycling goal. They are not intended as an implementation plan, but rather a catalog of options for moving forward. Detailed recommendations include a mix of statutory and regulatory changes, infrastructure expansion, fiscal policies and incentives, as well as monitoring and enforcement. Additionally, moving more organics into the resource stream supports the state’s broader environmental goals, in particular those contained in Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-30-15 and addresses four of the Governor’s climate change strategy pillars.

  • Moving Organics Out of the Landfill
  • Expanding the Recycling/Manufacturing Infrastructure: Permitting/Compliance Assistance and Financing
  • Exploring New Models for State and Local Funding of Materials Management Programs
  • Promoting State Procurement of Postconsumer Recycled Content Products
  • Promoting Extended Producer Responsibility

Concepts are also included for three additional focus areas:

  • Source Reduction
  • Commercial Recycling
  • Other Products (packaging, waste tires, e-waste and used oil) 

The appendices summarize the concepts and current activities related to each concept.  A more comprehensive listing of ongoing staff work and collaborations with sister agencies is described on the focus area webpages.

Quantifying the 75 Percent Goal

To reach the goal, an additional 23 million tons will need to be recycled, reduced or composted in 2020. That is based on an estimated 80 million tons of solid waste generated in 2020. We assume current recycling and composting efforts will account for at least the same recycling volume as 2013—about 37 million tons, and that 20 million tons would still go to disposal and disposal-related activities (alternative daily cover, alternative intermediate cover, beneficial reuse, transformation, etc.).

Measuring Statewide Progress

This new, statewide goal is different from earlier local government diversion mandates. The statewide goal is a recycling goal, not a diversion goal.  It only focuses on source reduction, recycling and composting. The goal ensures that 75 percent is more than a numerical accomplishment, but rather one that brings into sharp focus the diverse reuse benefits of all waste stream components that could conceivably be kept out of the landfills. To measure statewide progress, CalRecycle will use the term “recycling” for a range of activities related to source reduction, recycling and composting (including anaerobic digestion). Waste-to-energy processes, alternative daily/intermediate cover, and other beneficial reuse at landfills is not included as “recycling” to measure progress toward 75 percent.  However, activities that do not count as recycling for reaching the statewide goal may still have value as the highest and best use of a material compared to landfilling.  

Development of Statewide Strategy

CalRecycle drafted a discussion document in May 2012, held workshops, and solicited survey responses to gather stakeholder input. The drafts organized the existing efforts and new ideas into “focus areas” which provided a framework for the statewide strategy. After additional input, a refined concept list and summaries of stakdeholder comments was published in October 2013. Based on that input, CalRecycle’s recommendations were presented as a report to the Legislature.

Comments or Questions?

You can reach the CalRecycle team by email at


Upcoming Workshops

  •  October 10, 2017: Packaging Reform. Focused discussion on screening criteria and data sources for determining priority packaging types for analysis relative to different mandatory policy approaches.
  •  October 11, 2017: Future of Electronic Waste Management in California-Part 4.

Past Workshops

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If you require assistance accessing any documents on this page, contact CalRecycle's Office of Public Affairs at (916) 341-6300.