A large portion of greenwaste generated from urban landscapes (i.e. tree and shrub trimmings, grass clippings, leaves, etc.) is produced by the professional landscape industry. Consequently, CalRecycle undertook a series of landscape management outreach program activities designed to prevent excessive greenwaste generation, increase diversion from landfills, and promote the use of compost and mulch made from urban-derived greenwaste materials.

CalRecycle conducted a series of surveys among participants at major landscape industry trade shows and expositions in both Northern and Southern California. Survey results are tabulated in the following charts:

Greenwaste Management Methods

The data shows a slight but positive trend toward increased use of best management practices, such as grasscycling, mulching trimmings on-site, limiting chemical fertilization usage, controlling irrigation runoff, and using selective pruning, to reduce greenwaste generation. On the disposal side, a significant reduction in the use of residential curbside bins and commercial haulers to remove greenwaste from landscape sites is shown. A slight reduction in landfill use is also noted.

Graphic showing the increase of Green Waste Management Method use statewide
Green Waste Management Methods
Current Methods 1999/002000/012001/02

Landfill

12.77%11.14%11.22%
Local Transfer Station0.00%3.71%5.44%
Commercial Hauler10.64%7.43%4.76%
Grasscycle8.51%9.16%10.54%
Mulch Trimmings8.51%9.90%10.20%
Control Irrigation5.32%9.65%7.82%
Growth Regulators3.19%1.98%4.08%
Other (Specify)1.06%1.98%0.68%

Barriers to Greenwaste Reduction, Reuse, Recycling

A review of the reported barriers to using best management practices shows a significant jump in the number of participants reporting they have no barriers. Those reporting a lack of training on using BMPs sharply decreased, while at the same time participants reported an increase in other specified barriers. Participants reported they found a greater availability of local greenwaste hauling services.

Graphic showing a significant 
jump in the number of participants reporting they have no barriers to using green waste
Barriers to Green Waste Reduction Reuse, Recycling
Barriers 1999/002000/012001/02

Client Prevents

 5.88%7.10%6.04%
Lack Equipment 14.71%8.74%14.77%
No Local Facilities 11.03%9.84%10.74%
Lack Training 7.35%8.20%2.01%
No Local Hauling 11.03%5.46%3.36%
Other (Specify) 2.94%6.01%9.40%

Landscape Applications of Compost/Mulch Materials Used

Weed suppression and soil amendment are the two largest end uses for mulch or compost materials according to the survey results. Turf topdressing applications greatly increased, while water conservation and backfill mix uses show a downward trend..

Graphic showing how turf topdressing applications have 
greatly increased, while water conservation and backfill mix uses have shown a 
downward trend
Landscape Applications of Compost/Mulch Materials Used
Material End Use 1999/002000/012001/02
Top Dressing  12.01%18.67%18.31%
Weed Suppression 18.32%15.98%20.00%
Erosion Control 12.31%13.69%10.17%
Soil Amendment 17.12%17.22%17.97%
Never Apply 1.50%3.32%3.05%
Add Organic Matter 15.62%12.86%14.58%
Water Conservation  14.41%12.24%10.51%
Backfill Mix 8.11%5.39%4.41%
Other (Specify) 0.60%0.62%1.02%

Types> of Compost/Mulch Feedstock Used

Yard trimmings and forestry byproducts are the two largest feedstock sources for the compost/mulch used by the survey participants. Each was consistently used by over 20 percent of those surveyed over three years. Composted manure feedstock is the next largest feedstock source, but this is significantly lower than the yard trimmings or forestry byproducts. Less than 5 percent of the participants reported using organic products made from food or agricultural residues. About 20 percent of those surveyed report using some sort of material from on-site composting.

Graphic showing that yard
trimmings and forestry by-products are two of the largest feedstock sources for the
compost/mulch used by survey participants
Types of Compost/Mulch Used
Types Used 1999/002000/012001/02
Composted Manure  17.74%12.88%16.67%
Forestry By-products 20.43%23.48%22.40%
Any Product 10.22%14.02%14.06%
On-site Composting 19.35%21.59%19.79%
Don't Know 1.08%2.65%2.60%
Yard Trimmings 25.81%20.08%22.92%
Food or Ag Residues  3.76%2.65%1.04%
Other (Specify) 1.61%2.65%1.04%

Barriers to Using Compost/Mulch Materials

Survey participants report encountering a number of barriers to using organic products in urban landscapes. The two biggest barriers are the lack of proper application equipment and the lack of technical know-how. Other significant barriers include a perception of unreliable quality and either the employer or the customer discourages its use. While the participants report that the availability of local suppliers increased, the perception that products are too expensive also sharply increased.

Graphic showing the barriers to using organic products in landscaping as reported by participants
Barriers to Using Compost and Mulch Materials
Barriers 1999/002000/012001/02
Customer Prevents 13.64% 13.51%12.82%
Employer Discourages9.09% 14.41%12.82%
Lack Equipment15.91% 13.51%17.95%
No Benefits4.55% 4.50%2.56%
No Local Suppliers7.95% 4.50%1.28%
Unreliable Quality10.23% 8.11%11.54%
Lack Technical Info 15.91%12.61%15.38%
Too Expensive6.82% 12.61%15.38%
Other (Specify)15.91% 16.22%21.79%