Waste Reduction

Waste reduction (or prevention) is the preferred approach to waste management because waste that never gets created doesn’t have waste management costs.

An example of waste reduction is reducing unnecessary packaging from manufactured products and produce. If this excess packaging could be avoided, no one would have to be concerned with the cost and effort of collecting the excess packaging, separating it for recycling, breaking it down, transporting it to manufacturers, and then integrating the recycled materials back into the manufacturing process.

Waste reduction also helps conserve resources for future generations and contributes to a cleaner environment. Find out more about reducing waste through the following CalRecycle sites.

General Information

Extended Producer Responsibility and Stewardship. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), also known as product stewardship, is a strategy to place a shared responsibility for end-of-life product management on the producers, and all entities involved in the product chain, instead of the general public; while encouraging product design changes that minimize a negative impact on human health and the environment at every stage of the product’s lifecycle.

Waste Reduction/Recycling Coordinator Information and Resources. Materials and assistance to help you set up and operate a successful waste reduction program in your business, office, or locality.

Specific Materials

Solar Panels and Electric Vehicle Batteries. California is accelerating toward a carbon-free electric and transportation system, and leading the way in adoption of electric vehicles (EV) and photovoltaic (PV) panels. Continued growth of these industries makes it critical to take action now to minimize downstream impacts of end-of-life (EOL) management. CalRecycle is participating in an interagency collaboration to draft a White Paper on Addressing EOL Management of PV Panels and Batteries for EV Vehicles and Energy Storage. 

TextilesMore than 1.24 million tons of textiles were disposed in California landfills in 2014. Textiles are the sixth most prevalent material type in the overall disposed waste stream and comprise 4 percent of landfilled waste. California has set an ambitious goal of 75 percent recycling, composting, or source reduction of solid waste by 2020 by taking a statewide approach to decreasing California’s reliance on landfills. Managing our textile waste responsibly is essential to this effort.

Reusable transport packagingDisposable wood pallets, corrugated cardboard boxes, and plastic film comprise a significant amount of the waste generated by businesses in California. Reusable transport packaging replaces one-time (and limited-use) pallets and boxes with reusable totes, bins, and pallets. This website hosted by StopWaste.org provides information regarding free workshops, educational materials, and other resources to help businesses make the switch and realize the benefits of reusables.

Packaging. Every year Californians generate millions of tons of solid waste, much of which is packaging. Because landfill space is limited, retailers and manufacturers need to work together to reduce packaging waste.

Paper. Prevention is the most environmentally preferable means to reduce paper waste. Printing paper on both sides of the sheet is a classic example of paper waste prevention, as it can reduce the need for paper by up to 50 percent. Paper waste prevention reduces the environmental impacts associated with both paper manufacture (including the demands on our forest resources) and paper recycling.

Specific Venues

Business Waste Reduction. Preventing waste conserves resources, prevents pollution, and saves money. It’s just good business sense.

Waste Reduction at Venues and EventsActivities at venue and events can generate a significant amount of waste in a short period of time. Cities and counties in California and State-owned or operated facilities also have waste reduction mandates that they must fulfill and maintain. Thus, they are increasingly looking to find ways to assist in reducing waste at the venues and events held at their facilities or located within their boundaries.

Waste Prevention at Home. Information on how you can reduce waste at home, including junk mail, holiday waste, and yard/garden waste.

School Waste Reduction and Recycling. Schools can help communities reduce their waste, while saving money and teaching kids valuable lessons.

For more information contact: Office of Public Affairs, opa@calrecycle.ca.gov