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

  • Composting Recalled Lettuce from E. Coli Outbreak

     

    Lettuce growing in compost

     

    Following a nationwide E. coli outbreak, recalled lettuce grown throughout the Salinas Valley is making its way back into the ground as compost, thanks to a California Climate Investment from CalRecycle. A new composting facility in Salinas has already started accepting more than 50 tons of the of the potentially tainted produce, according to the Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority (Salinas Authority).

    “It’s stretching our daily processing capacity,” Salinas Authority General Manager Patrick Mathews told United Press International. “It’s coming in by the truckloads.”

    E. coli Outbreak Linked to Lettuce

    In November, the Centers for Disease Control warned consumers not to eat romaine lettuce grown in California’s Salinas Valley after an E. coli outbreak sickened nearly 70 people in 19 states. The CDC, the Food and Drug Administration, and health authorities from various states continue to investigate the exact source of the strain while encouraging residents, restaurants, retailers, suppliers, and distributors to remove the product from their refrigerators, shelves, and distribution chains.

    When sent to landfills, lettuce and other organic waste decomposes and generates methane, a short-lived climate pollutant 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane is emitted when organic material is buried and decomposes anaerobically, or without oxygen. The U.S. Composting Coalition encourages consumers and businesses to compost the recalled produce instead. The aeration of material in the composting process results in a different chemical reaction, producing far less damaging emissions.

    “Industrial-scale composting … achieves the temperatures and holding times to eliminate human pathogens (like E. coli),” notes U.S. Composting Coalition Executive Director Frank Franciosi. “While you don't want to eat the romaine lettuce, there is no reason to put it in a landfill where it will generate methane, a significant greenhouse gas, and cause global climate change.”

    CalRecycle’s Climate Change Funds for Composting
    Reduce Greenhouse Gases in the Air

    Salinas Compost Facility

     

    With the help of a recent $1.3 million California Climate Investment grant awarded by CalRecycle, the Salinas Authority constructed an aerated static pile compost facility at the Johnson Canyon landfill in Monterey County. Formerly, wood and green materials were chipped at a landfill and shipped as mulch or to a biofuel facility, while food was disposed of in the landfill. The Salinas Authority built its new, fully permitted composting facility this summer. In the fall it began turning green materials and food into compost. The Salinas Authority estimated it would compost 132,000 tons of food and green waste by 2026.

    Compost increases soil carbon content and increases its moisture-holding capacity, enabling it to literally pull CO2 out of the air. California law mandates composting facilities process materials at temperatures high enough to kill E. coli and other pathogens.

    Funding Available for Organic Waste Recycling

     

    Salinas Compost Facility under construction

     

    CalRecycle’s Organics Grant program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving human health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities.

    Learn more about CalRecycle’s funding opportunities at calrecycle.ca.gov/funding. You can also subscribe to CalRecycle’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grant and Loan Programs Listserv.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Dec 5, 2019

  • Yolo County Prepares for SB 1383 Implementation with Launch of New Anaerobic Composter

    organic food scraps and hands holding compost

    Yolo County began operating a new anaerobic composter on Oct.1 that can recycle 52,000 tons of organic waste each year into compost, biofuel, and electricity. 

     The facility will keep that organic material out of the county landfill. In landfills, organic waste decomposes and generates methane, which is a major contributor to climate change.

     Instead, food waste, grass clippings, and other organic material collected from local businesses and residents is delivered to the anaerobic composting facility, a 10-acre spot with seven “cells,” at the Yolo County Central Landfill site. 

     When the organic material is delivered to this site, it is ground up and deposited into cells. Each cell is sealed by spraying the surface with a mixture of cement, fibers, and polymer. Once the bacteria-rich liquid is pumped into the cell, the anaerobic digestion process takes place, and in less than six months, biogas is finally produced.

     “Moisture is removed from the biogas produced, and it’s injected into an internal combustion engine that burns the gas, which creates electricity,” said Ramin Yazdani, Director of Yolo County Integrated Waste Management.  “The electricity goes on the grid and is sold to SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District).”

     After methane production has dropped off, the is operated aerobically, utilizing the aeration piping system. Air is injected into the cells to aerate the digestate material for a two-week aerobic digestion phase. This creates compost. 

     The material is then excavated, cured, and screened of contamination. Once the process is complete, the county will sell the compost to residents and businesses. 

     Compost has many beneficial uses, including as a soil amendment and in erosion control. Learn more about compost on our website.

     In 2007, Yolo County received a $200,000 CalRecycle grant to run a pilot project that broke down 2,000 tons of organic waste in a smaller cell.

     “That created the basis of our current design,” Ramin said, “and it showed us operational challenges that we had to learn from in order to design and operate a better system.”

    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Nov 18, 2019

  • Smashing Pumpkins

    How to recycle Jack-o-Lanterns

    Now that Halloween is over and the trick-or-treating is all done, you probably have a jack-o’-lantern still sitting on your front porch. Seriously, what are you going to do with that pumpkin?

    Well, a lot of people simply put it in the trash can, and that’s not the best place to put it.

    If tossed into the trash, a rotting pumpkin will decompose like any other food waste and emit methane, a harmful greenhouse gas.

    American’s likely spent $377.23 million on pumpkins for carving into jack-o-lanterns in 2019. Across the nation, more than 650,000 tons (1.3 billion pounds) of pumpkin flesh could be headed to landfills because many consumers will carve the pumpkin but not consume it.

    So, what’s a possible solution? Well, how about composting old pumpkins?

    If you have a green waste curbside collection bin, chances are you can put your pumpkin in there where it will be taken to a compost or anaerobic digestion facility and turned into biofuel. If you would like to compost the pumpkin in your own compost pile, you can find a compost recipe and tips on our website. But here’s the basic gist of how to get it done.

    • Remove candles, artificial lighting, or any other decorations that are in or attached to the pumpkin. Pumpkins that have been decorated with paint or glitter should not be composted.
      • Remove the seeds so you don’t risk starting a pumpkin patch in your compost pile. (It’s OK if you do—just turn those pumpkins back into more compost.)
      • A clean pumpkin can be added to an existing compost pile and mixed in with other ingredients.
      • Another bonus to composting pumpkins—you can smash the orange head into smithereens and compost all of the tiny pieces. (Such a good way to let out your aggression after someone egged your house. Darn kids!)

      Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Nov 4, 2019