In California, recycling and waste management are shared responsibilities between the State, local jurisdictions, and the waste and recycling industry. In light of recent changes to recycling markets, jurisdictions and their industry partners are taking steps to encourage waste prevention, reduce contamination of recyclable materials, and improve postcollection processing. The diversity of responses to National Sword demonstrates the complexity of the problem in California, where recycling and waste management often varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Some material recovery facilities are hiring more workers and slowing down sorting lines to reduce contamination before baling recyclables for export. Jurisdictions are implementing educational campaigns to reduce contamination at the generator-level.

Education

  • StopWaste (Alameda County) is convening a regional task force to share information, plan public outreach responses and produce recommendations for changes to local recycling programs. The task force includes recycled commodity brokers, local haulers/processors, facility operators and government officials. They have released a recycling messaging and graphics bank to help jurisdictions communicate with the public about recycling.
  • San Luis Obispo County is rolling out a new education campaign in partnership with Cold Canyon Processing facility. Check out the county’s updated recycling guide.
  • Sacramento County published a special insert in local newspapers about residential recycling and contamination in collaboration with major local haulers. They have also started a pilot education program to test new carts and begin contamination education.
  • Mid-Valley Disposal, a hauler in the Central Valley, is altering its educational materials to be more specific as to what materials can be placed in recycling containers to combat contamination. It also addresses National Sword in its quarterly newsletters.
  • The California Refuse Recycling Crisis Media Kit provides informational links to current news and talking points useful to jurisdictions in discussing recycling market changes.
  • Sonoma County’s 2018 Recycling Guide is an example of free comprehensive recycling guide for residents.
  • Recology initiated a "Better at the Bin" campaign to encourage reduced consumption and better recyclables sorting.
  • Marin Sanitary Service and ReCollect are developing an app for customers to determine what is recyclable.
  • South Bayside Waste Management Authority is hosting a “Rethink Recycling Day” and offering facility tours, and other recycling and reuse activities.

Markets

  • San Jose is renegotiating its contracts with solid waste haulers and is exploring methods to encourage residences and businesses to produce less waste. 
  • San Diego’s hauler requests suspension of all revenue payments and charge for materials received from the city instead. 
  • Grass Valley City Council approved an annual rate increase for garbage collection service.
  • City of Fremont increasing residential garbage bills by $1.50 a month to cover additional sorting and processing costs

Processing

Policy

Waste Reduction

  • Nine California cities have banned plastic straws unless customers request them.
  • California State Legislature AB 1884 addressing single-use plastic straw regulation is in the Senate.