With more than 30 percent of California's waste stream consisting of compostable organic materials, it's critical to find ways to keep these useful materials from ending up in landfills. To this end, the CIWMB (now known as the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery or CalRecycle) formed the Greening Team. CalRecycle actively funded programs and projects--in partnership with local governments, compost producers, users of compost and mulch, and others--that promoted waste prevention and recycling of organic materials.

The Greening Team: An Overview

What was the "Greening Team?"
The Greening Team was comprised of a group of CalRecycle staff assigned to develop a performance plan for diverting compostable organic materials from California's landfills. The team's vision was to find "a home for all compostable organic materials," with a goal of diverting 5 to 7 million more tons of organic materials from landfills each year.

Systems Approach to Organic Materials Diversion
The approach implemented by the Greening Team focused on nature's organics "system." This system starts with Mother Nature and extends into our homes, yards, parks, orchards, and workplaces. Many opportunities exist to reduce the generation of organic materials, for example by grasscycling. Once organic materials are generated, they can be used beneficially onsite where they were created. If not used onsite, they are collected and either sent to landfills or recovered by processors and manufacturers who transform them into compost, mulch, and other products. Diversion and use of these materials greatly reduces environmental impacts at landfills and yields benefits such as soil revitalization, erosion control, and water conservation. This natural cycle was used to identify where organic materials are generated and where programs could be implemented to stop waste and better use this resource.

Greening Team Targets
The Greening Team identified six areas in the organics system as major targets for diversion or prevention. In planning and implementing activities to address these targets, the team also recognized the importance of working with its partners in local and state government, the recycling and manufacturing sectors, and agriculture and other sectors.

  • Target 1
    • Goal: Increase on-site management of commercial and residential landscape trimmings and residential food scraps by approximately 1.1 million tons by 2000.
    • Initially, the purpose of all CalRecycle projects was to target regions in California generating the most grass, develop regional grasscycling promotional campaigns, and have at least one-half of the jurisdictions in the regions participating in the campaigns. Projects expanded to include targeting urban communities and commercial landscapers who generate large amounts of green waste refuse. (See Target 5 below.)
  • Target 2
    • Goal: Decrease waste of commercial and institutional food by approximately 0.3 million tons by 2000.
    • Challenge: Increase the number of jurisdictions implementing commercial and institutional food management programs.
    • Plan: Provide targeted jurisdictions with information on technical options and available local resources for developing new programs.
  • Target 3
    • Goal: Improve feedstock quality to increase the marketability of products made from compostable organic materials.
    • Challenge: Increase the number of jurisdictions implementing separate organic materials collection programs.
    • Plan: Monitor trends in collection programs and survey industry regarding acceptability of materials.
  • Target 4
    • Goal: Develop a regulatory framework that protects public health and the environment and increases business opportunities for recycling of compostable organic materials.
    • Challenge: Level the playing field by closing loopholes, while not stifling business development.
    • Plan: Revise existing regulations to more equitably regulate businesses using organic materials as feedstocks.
  • Target 5
    • Goal: Increase use of compost and mulch used in landscaping and related applications by 1.5 million to 2 million tons.
    • Challenge: Convince landscapers and local governments to use municipal mulch and compost.
    • Plan: Increase the availability and use of specifications and guidelines, increasing the number of registered compost producers and initiate 10 new "partnership" projects in landscaping and erosion control.
  • Target 6
    • Goal: Increase the amount of compost and mulch used in agriculture by 1.5 to 2 million tons.
    • Challenge: Convince growers of the benefits of municipal mulch and compost use.
    • Plan: Establish 10 new "partnership" projects in agriculture and erosion control with the University of California, growers, local government agencies, agricultural organizations and compost/mulch producers. Additional information is available on the Agricultural Demonstration Projects.

Related Information

  • Organics Market Development Indicators
    CalRecycle collected data on trend indicators in the compost and mulch industry to determine the success of its market development programs.
  • Solicitation for Grant Partners
    CalRecycle sought potential partners for the purpose of working together to secure external (i.e., other state or federal agency) grant funds for partnership projects that would have cross-media implications and promote market development of municipally derived organic materials.