Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.

  • Eco Holiday Habits to Get on Santa's Nice List

    During the holidays many of us gather to share special meals, exchange gifts, and enjoy ourselves. As you prepare to host gatherings for your loved ones, consider how your celebrations create waste that contributes to climate change and adds to the growing amount of plastic in landfills. Are you being naughty or nice to the planet?

    Here are three ways to get on the planet’s Nice List this holiday season

    Naughty food waste; nice compost

    Naughty: Throwing Food in the Trash
    Nice: Lowering Food Waste with Meal Plans and Composting

    Meal Plan for Zero Food Waste

    Many of us consider lavish spreads of favorite holiday dishes the hallmark of a caring host. But excess food gives off high amounts of the potent greenhouse gas methane once it’s dumped in a landfill. This is a major cause of climate change.

    Rethink your hosting ideals, brand your gathering eco-friendly, then don’t overbuy or overcook.

    Use the food GUEST-IMATOR tool to plan how much to prepare. If there are leftovers you know you won’t finish, send food home with your guests in reusable containers.

    Clean your plate or compost the rest.

    Try composting your food waste. If your curbside organics collection doesn’t accept food, ask local community gardens if you can contribute to their compost bin.

    Consider setting up your own home compost. It can help grow healthier, heartier plants. Winter is the ideal time to start compost that will be ready to add to your garden in the spring.

    Easy tips for starting to compost

    naughty: single use disposable plastic. Nice: reusable dishes.

    Naughty: Single-Use Plastic
    Nice: Reusable Dishes and Utensils

    “Disposable” Plastic Lasts Forever

    Many hosts choose the ease of disposable plates, cutlery, and cups for holiday gatherings. But that plastic your guests use for just a few minutes will never biodegrade. It stays on the planet, slowly breaking down into toxic microplastics.

    About 10 percent of all trash is plastic. Forty million Californians create more than 3.2 million tons of plastic waste every year.

    Reusable plates and cutlery give the gift of a cleaner planet. Less trash in landfills is worth a few extra minutes of cleanup.

    Naughty: dirty recyclables; nice: clean recyclables

    Naughty: Dirty Recyclables
    Nice: Clean Recyclables 

    Rinse Containers Before Recycling

    Recyclables tainted with food or water can leak onto surrounding paper and cardboard, and create a contaminated, unrecyclable mess. In 2018 China stopped accepting certain US mixed recyclable shipments because many arrived full of mold and had to be thrown away in landfills.

    Clean your containers to keep recycling from becoming garbage. 

    Not sure about that greasy pizza box? Tear off the oily parts and toss those in the trash. The remaining clean cardboard can go in your blue bin.

    Check out this quick video on recycling contamination.

    With a few small changes, you can make a difference for the planet even as you enjoy this festive season. Get more eco-friendly holiday hints to use this year.

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Dec 23, 2019

  • Composting Recalled Lettuce from E. Coli Outbreak

     

    Lettuce growing in compost

     

    Following a nationwide E. coli outbreak, recalled lettuce grown throughout the Salinas Valley is making its way back into the ground as compost, thanks to a California Climate Investment from CalRecycle. A new composting facility in Salinas has already started accepting more than 50 tons of the of the potentially tainted produce, according to the Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority (Salinas Authority).

    “It’s stretching our daily processing capacity,” Salinas Authority General Manager Patrick Mathews told United Press International. “It’s coming in by the truckloads.”

    E. coli Outbreak Linked to Lettuce

    In November, the Centers for Disease Control warned consumers not to eat romaine lettuce grown in California’s Salinas Valley after an E. coli outbreak sickened nearly 70 people in 19 states. The CDC, the Food and Drug Administration, and health authorities from various states continue to investigate the exact source of the strain while encouraging residents, restaurants, retailers, suppliers, and distributors to remove the product from their refrigerators, shelves, and distribution chains.

    When sent to landfills, lettuce and other organic waste decomposes and generates methane, a short-lived climate pollutant 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane is emitted when organic material is buried and decomposes anaerobically, or without oxygen. The U.S. Composting Coalition encourages consumers and businesses to compost the recalled produce instead. The aeration of material in the composting process results in a different chemical reaction, producing far less damaging emissions.

    “Industrial-scale composting … achieves the temperatures and holding times to eliminate human pathogens (like E. coli),” notes U.S. Composting Coalition Executive Director Frank Franciosi. “While you don't want to eat the romaine lettuce, there is no reason to put it in a landfill where it will generate methane, a significant greenhouse gas, and cause global climate change.”

    CalRecycle’s Climate Change Funds for Composting
    Reduce Greenhouse Gases in the Air

    Salinas Compost Facility

     

    With the help of a recent $1.3 million California Climate Investment grant awarded by CalRecycle, the Salinas Authority constructed an aerated static pile compost facility at the Johnson Canyon landfill in Monterey County. Formerly, wood and green materials were chipped at a landfill and shipped as mulch or to a biofuel facility, while food was disposed of in the landfill. The Salinas Authority built its new, fully permitted composting facility this summer. In the fall it began turning green materials and food into compost. The Salinas Authority estimated it would compost 132,000 tons of food and green waste by 2026.

    Compost increases soil carbon content and increases its moisture-holding capacity, enabling it to literally pull CO2 out of the air. California law mandates composting facilities process materials at temperatures high enough to kill E. coli and other pathogens.

    Funding Available for Organic Waste Recycling

     

    Salinas Compost Facility under construction

     

    CalRecycle’s Organics Grant program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving human health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities.

    Learn more about CalRecycle’s funding opportunities at calrecycle.ca.gov/funding. You can also subscribe to CalRecycle’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grant and Loan Programs Listserv.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Dec 5, 2019

  • Yolo County Prepares for SB 1383 Implementation with Launch of New Anaerobic Composter

    organic food scraps and hands holding compost

    Yolo County began operating a new anaerobic composter on Oct.1 that can recycle 52,000 tons of organic waste each year into compost, biofuel, and electricity. 

     The facility will keep that organic material out of the county landfill. In landfills, organic waste decomposes and generates methane, which is a major contributor to climate change.

     Instead, food waste, grass clippings, and other organic material collected from local businesses and residents is delivered to the anaerobic composting facility, a 10-acre spot with seven “cells,” at the Yolo County Central Landfill site. 

     When the organic material is delivered to this site, it is ground up and deposited into cells. Each cell is sealed by spraying the surface with a mixture of cement, fibers, and polymer. Once the bacteria-rich liquid is pumped into the cell, the anaerobic digestion process takes place, and in less than six months, biogas is finally produced.

     “Moisture is removed from the biogas produced, and it’s injected into an internal combustion engine that burns the gas, which creates electricity,” said Ramin Yazdani, Director of Yolo County Integrated Waste Management.  “The electricity goes on the grid and is sold to SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District).”

     After methane production has dropped off, the is operated aerobically, utilizing the aeration piping system. Air is injected into the cells to aerate the digestate material for a two-week aerobic digestion phase. This creates compost. 

     The material is then excavated, cured, and screened of contamination. Once the process is complete, the county will sell the compost to residents and businesses. 

     Compost has many beneficial uses, including as a soil amendment and in erosion control. Learn more about compost on our website.

     In 2007, Yolo County received a $200,000 CalRecycle grant to run a pilot project that broke down 2,000 tons of organic waste in a smaller cell.

     “That created the basis of our current design,” Ramin said, “and it showed us operational challenges that we had to learn from in order to design and operate a better system.”

    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Nov 18, 2019