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

  • Autumn: Prime time for backyard composting

    Summer has given way to autumn, and we’re pulling on our boots and clomping off to the coffee shop for pumpkin-spice lattes. And soon, my backyard tree will be dropping enough leaves to ramp up my suburban compost bin again.

    My city provides me with a “brown bin” that I can use for organic waste, so even when I’m not composting with my bin, my organic waste is not decomposing in a landfill somewhere and generating methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide.

    But I enjoy playing weekend farmer in my little backyard, and my compost bin is magic: I toss in banana peels and coffee grounds, and I pull out a rich, nutritious soil amendment. And there are benefits to making my own compost rather than buying it at a garden supply store: I know exactly what’s in it, I don’t have to pay for it, and I don’t need to haul it home.

    At CalRecycle, we get pretty excited about composting, so we’ve got all sorts of resources for people who want to start composting, increase or improve their compost yield, or troubleshoot potential problems. The trick, I think, is to not get bogged down trying to figure out the perfect system. Just pick a bin that works for the space you have, and get started. You can fine-tune later. For all my worries, I have never seen a rodent around my bin, and I’ve never had a smelly bin. (Since my neighbors are very close by, I tend to keep my pile a little drier than optimal just to be on the safe side as far as odor goes. I pay for that caution with a slower composting process.)

    Be sure to check out CalRecycle’s backyard composting primer, complete with directions, explanations, and links to additional resources. Here’s a quick look at the process, which should reduce the intimidation factor and get you started:

    First, get a bin. (I love my stackable bin, but my city gives away a hoop bin to residents. Check with your city or local jurisdiction.) You can also build a bin. An optimal bin is about 3 feet wide, 3 feet deep, and 3 feet tall. Then, follow these steps:

    • Start with a layer of “brown” material such as dried leaves and twigs. This material provides carbon for the pile.
    • Add a layer of “green” material like coffee grounds, tea bags, and produce scraps. This provides nitrogen.
    • Mix it up with a shovel or pitchfork. (Or, “turn it,” as compost folks like to say.)
    • Add water until it’s the consistency of a wrung-out sponge.
    • Top the pile with just enough “brown” material so no “green” material is exposed.
    • Give it another light watering.
    • Wait as long as you like. Days, weeks, whatever works for you.

    Then repeat. That’s all!

    Once the magic starts to happen and you discover your kitchen scraps have actually turned into a rich, moist soil amendment, you can decide how much effort and precision you’d like to put into your compost project. If you go for “gourmet” composting, you’ll get much more (and higher quality) material. If, like me, you stick with “casual” composting, you’ll still get enough to energize your spring veggies and ornamentals, plus more for mulching.

    If you don’t have the space for a composting bin, consider community-scale composting and get to know your neighbors. Whether you turn your own bin or work in a group plot, you’ll all have good “dirt” to share over your coffee drinks.

    Posted on In the Loop by Heather Jones on Sep 25, 2018

  • Fact Check: What Affected Homeowners Should Know About Wildfire Debris Removal

    Crews managed by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery are making significant progress clearing debris from private properties destroyed by the Carr Fire in Shasta County and the Klamathon Fire in Siskiyou County. CalRecycle-managed crews are also set to begin debris removal on homes destroyed by the Mendocino Complex and Pawnee fires in Lake County.

    Residents who wish to take advantage of the state-run debris removal program pay no out-of-pocket costs but are required to return signed right-of-entry agreements to their local governments before crews can begin work.

    Incident Right-of-Entry Deadline
    Klamathon Fire (Siskiyou County) Passed (Contact your local government)
    Carr Fire (Shasta County/City of Redding) Sept. 30, 2018
    Mendocino Complex Fire (Lake County) Sept. 28, 2018
    Pawnee Fire (Lake County) Sept. 28, 2018

    CalRecycle manages California’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program under the leadership of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and local governments. Here are other key facts about the program:

    • California’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program is entirely state-run and managed by CalRecycle experts with more than a decade of experience in disaster debris removal.
    • The state-run program covers asbestos testing and removal; site assessments and documentation; removal of all burned debris, foundations, ash, and contaminated soil; air monitoring and dust control; soil sampling; soil re-scraping (as needed); erosion control installation; and final inspection.
    • State-managed crews follow stringent health and safety standards to help rebuild communities to the highest standards and prevent additional harm during the cleanup process.
    • Private cleanups are required to follow the same health, safety, and environmental standards as state-managed cleanups; this should be factored into any private cleanup cost estimates.
    • Over the past 15 disaster debris removal operations, the average cost per lot for CalRecycle-managed cleanups was $74,958. Per-lot costs can vary dramatically depending on geographic distribution, structures per site, access issues, environmental conditions, and distance to an acceptable disposal facility.
    • CalRecycle documents the amount of material removed, trucked, and disposed from each property to ensure fiscal and operational accountability.
    • There are no out-of-pocket costs to participating homeowners, regardless of actual cleanup costs or residential insurance coverage
    • Homeowners with insurance that specifically covers debris removal may be required to remit the portion of the insurance claim payments that are specifically reserved for that activity.
    • Property owners may be able to first utilize debris removal insurance proceeds for debris removal work that is outside the scope of the state-managed program, such as the removal of pools and driveways, and trees/fencing/outbuildings outside the ash footprint. Contact your insurance provider for specifics on your policy.

    Get answers to any remaining debris removal questions by contacting representatives at the Debris Removal Operations Center in your community.

    Shasta Co. Debris Removal Operations Center
    1300 Hilltop Drive
    Redding, CA 96003

    Siskiyou Co. Debris Removal Operations Center
    1312 Fairlane Road
    Yreka, CA 96097

    Lake Co. Debris Removal Operations Center
    898 Lakeport Boulevard
    Lakeport, CA 96453

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Sep 18, 2018

  • The Garbage Bin: It’s Not for Just Any Old Thing

    It might seem like you should be able to throw anything in your garbage bin, close the lid, roll it to the curb, and be done with it. That’s the service you’re paying the “hauler” for, right? To haul away all the stuff you don’t want anymore?

    Actually, no.

    Many household items are potentially hazardous for sanitation workers to handle and transport. They can also pose environmental hazards if they end up in a landfill. While it would be nice to be able to toss your dead batteries, used motor oil, and half-empty paint cans into the bin, your local hauler is not equipped to handle those items, known as household hazardous waste. You can’t put them in your recycling bin, either, for many of the same reasons.

    Here is a quick list of waste that’s banned from the trash bin and the recycling bin.

    • Batteries, including alkaline and lithium-ion, rechargeable and single-use, car batteries, and any other batteries.
    • Fluorescent lamps and tubes, including fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent lamps, metal halide lamps, and sodium vapor lamps.
    • Electronic devices, including computers, printers, VCRs, cell phones, telephones, radios, and microwave ovens.
    • Sharps and medical waste
    • Pesticides and herbicides
    • Paints and solvents, including latex paint, oil-based paint, and paint thinner
    • Treated wood
    • Motor oil and filters

    Check Earth911’s search page to find out where to take these materials, and use our Where to Recycle map to find a used oil recycling center near you. You can also check our Local Government Household Hazardous Waste Websites directory. Some local governments offer HHW pickup, so check with yours about available services.

    Sure, doing a little research and then perhaps carting your own trash around is not as convenient as simply rolling it to the curb, but each of us has a responsibility to recycle right. You’ll be doing your part to protect the environment and the workers who handle your waste.

    For more detailed information, see our Wastes Banned from the Trash webpage.

    Posted on In the Loop by Heather Jones on Sep 12, 2018