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

  • Tools for the Home Composter

    food scraps

    Did you know composting your food waste helps the environment? When landfilled, organic material emits methane gas, which directly contributes to climate change. If you have outdoor space, consider composting to prevent methane emissions and to create a rich soil amendment for your own use. Find basic directions on our compost webpage, and check out these tools that can make it easier to compost at home.

    Kitchen Pails & Crocks

    Using a pail or crock to collect coffee grounds, onion peels, potato peels, and table scraps in your kitchen will reduce the number of trips you make to the green bin or your own compost bin.

    Kitchen pails and crocks are available in a variety of materials like stainless steel, ceramic, bamboo, and plastic. Look for a container with a lid, which prevents odors from permeating your kitchen. Or consider lining your pail with a compostable bag, which cuts down on odors and makes it easier to transport green waste to your curbside bin. (Note: Check with your local hauler to see if they accept compostable bags. Some haulers consider compostable bags to be contaminants.) Some pails and crocks work with charcoal filters, which also reduce odors.

    Composting Bins and Tumblers

    bins and tumblers

    Some Californians have a large backyard and can manage a compost pile on the ground, while others may have limited space or have concerns about attracting rodents with food scraps. If you want to contain your compost, you have several options. Wire cages, plastic bins, and wooden crates expose the outer edges of your compost pile to the air, but they require a manual turn with a pitchfork to aerate the center of the pile.

    Want to speed up the process? Consider composting with worms. Vermicomposting is an efficient way to compost in a small space, and worm compost is considered by many in horticulture to be the very best soil amendment available.

    Another option is a composting tumbler, which does not require heavy lifting to aerate the pile. Spin or turn your tumbler to aerate your compost more efficiently, which can reduce the amount of time it takes to convert organic waste into compost. Tumblers range in size from 25 gallons to 170 gallons, which makes them versatile options for every household.

    compost tools

    If you use a traditional compost pile or bin, a manual aerator tool can help you mix your compost pile without heavy lifting. If your pile isn’t transforming organic material into compost efficiently, consider troubleshooting with a compost thermometer to measure the internal temperature.

    Home composting creates a valuable soil amendment that contributes to healthier and more abundant produce in your backyard garden. We can each do our part to protect the environment and human health by reducing food waste and composting our kitchen scraps. 

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Dec 20, 2018

  • SB 1383 Rulemaking Launch Party

    In September 2016, Governor Brown signed into law SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The new law requires that CalRecycle implement regulations to reduce organic waste disposal by 50 percent by 2020, and 75 percent by 2025. It also requires that not less than 20 percent of edible food that is currently disposed of is recovered for human consumption by 2025.

    At CalRecycle’s monthly public meeting on Tuesday, staff will recommend approval to complete and file the draft regulations with the Office of Administrative Law and begin the formal rulemaking process. This step has been preceded by almost two years of informal stakeholder workshops and statewide cost-benefit analyses.

    In non-government-ese: We’ve been working hard to figure out the best way to implement this new law, and we’ve gotten a lot of input from local communities and businesses, and we’ve constructed a detailed plan that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and feed hungry Californians. This is a big deal!

    Also at the public meeting, CalRecycle staff will seek approval to conclude the formal rulemaking process for AB 901(Gordon, Chapter 746, Statutes of 2015). This law changes how organics, recyclable material, and solid waste are reported to CalRecycle and will help the department focus its efforts to increase recycling in the state.

    In non-government-ese: Draft regulations, which detail the AB 901 reporting requirements and how CalRecycle will enforce them, have already been reviewed by OAL, and this action will finalize them. This is also a big deal.

    We’ll also announce grant recipients for our Tire Incentive Program and for projects using rubberized pavement and tire-derived aggregate. All three of these grant programs help California make good use of some of the 48 million waste tires managed in the state each year, rather than have them end up in landfills.

    CalRecycle December 2018 Public Meeting
    10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18
    Byron Sher Auditorium, CalEPA Building
    1001 I St., Sacramento, CA

    You can find the full agenda (and a lot of SB 1383 documents, including a few explanatory infographics) for CalRecycle’s December public meeting here. If you can’t make it in person, join us by webcast (the link will go live shortly before the meeting begins).

    Posted on In the Loop by Heather Jones on Dec 17, 2018

  • 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