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

  • California Chefs Share ‘Seed to Stalk’ Recipes to Cut Food Waste

    When your business is food, every bite counts. So when California’s top chefs see potential profits literally tossed in the trash can—well—it bites.

    “We make our money by getting all we can out of the resources we have,” explained Sacramento restauranteur Patrick Mulvaney during CalRecycle’s recent SB 1383 workshop focused on developing regulations to reduce food and other organic waste disposal in California. Later in the workshop, Mulvaney went on to share an enlightening anecdote about his restaurants’ past struggle with rainbow chard. 

    “We used the leaves for all sorts of things like ravioli, fillings and mixes … but we’d be left with buckets and buckets of stems.” 


    All too often in restaurants and homes across California, those stems wind up in the garbage and among the roughly 6 million tons of produce scraps and other food waste landfilled in the state each year. Much of these produce odds and ends are perfectly edible and packed with flavor, making them valuable ingredients for chefs who know how to use them. In Mulvaney’s kitchens, more sustainable food management came by way of what he discovered in a decades-old cookbook.

    “(Cookbook author) Marcella Hazan had this recipe for chard stem gratin with parmesan and cream and all of the bad things that taste really good,” he said. That same recipe urged cooks not to throw out the chard leaves, because those are good too.

    “It was a reminder that, sometimes, what we really need to do is just change our perspective,” Mulvaney added.

    For years, ethical chefs have prided themselves on “using everything but the oink” when preparing animal protein, a principle that reinforces respect for ingredients and disdain for waste. Now, more chefs are applying that same ethic to produce through seed-to-stalk cooking. The latest trend in the sustainable food movement not only helps restaurants boost their bottom line by creating dishes out of potential discards, it also brings California closer to its ambitious 75 percent recycling goal while supporting the state’s strategy to combat climate change. When sent to landfills, food scraps and other organic waste decompose and emit methane, a super pollutant with 70 times more potent that carbon dioxide.

    Here’s what some of Northern California’s hottest restaurants tell us they’re doing to create delicious dishes with their produce odds and ends.

    The Riddler (San Francisco) – “Picked herbs that don’t look as lively a day or so after get chopped up and added in to our herby creme fraiche, as well as day-old lemon juice. Once the pickling program begins, we’ll be using herb stems to season the brine. We also love to use butts, ends, and stems in pickles to maximize flavor.”

    Mother (Sacramento) – “We often use carrot greens to make carrot top pesto. It’s quite good.”

    Kru (Sacramento) – “Most of our vegetable ends or scraps go into our different soups and stocks, such as our mushroom broth or ramen broth. We also have a vichyssoise that incorporates the bulb of the leek into the soup, and then we use the end as a garnish by dehydrating the thick, green leaf so it’s almost crunchy and then stand it up in the soup to add height, color, and texture. We get to use the entirety of the plant.”

    Humboldt Provisions (Eureka) – “We serve our oysters raw and broiled in the shell and reuse the shells as ground cover for our sister business, Humboldt Bay Social Club.  We also have donated shells to the City of Eureka to use as decorative ground cover in the plantings in Old Town Eureka.”


    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Jul 24, 2017

  • How an Upside-Down Triangle Can Help Save Our Planet

    The food recovery hierarchy, explained

    It’s not exactly a marvel of graphic design, but this upside-down triangle is getting the job done for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


    The food recovery hierarchy prioritizes actions governments, businesses, and other organizations can take to reduce food waste or divert non-edible material in the most beneficial way for the environment, society, and the economy.

    Based on the broader waste management hierarchy, the U.S. EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture published an early version of this material-specific hierarchy in their 1999 report: Waste Not, Want Not: Feeding the Hungry and Reducing Solid Waste Through Food Recovery. The document sought to provide guidance to states, jurisdictions, and businesses on how best to reduce food waste.

    That guidance is even more instrumental today as California and other states take the lead in America’s fight against climate change. When sent to landfills, food and other organic material decomposes and emits methane, a super pollutant 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide. California alone landfills about 6 million tons of food scraps or food waste each year, making it the largest material type in California’s waste stream (roughly 18 percent). The state’s 75 percent recycling goal, as well as its strategy to combat climate change, require significant reductions in the amount of food and other organic material sent to California landfills.

    The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) is among the entities that use the Food Recovery Hierarchy to better inform organic waste management policy and program efforts. The hierarchy helps target California climate investments in the waste and recycling sector needed to divert food and other valuable materials away from landfills and toward beneficial reuse. The inverted triangle is also an important tool in the implementation of SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016), which establishes targets to reduce short-lived climate pollutants, including methane. The law calls for a 50 percent reduction of organics in landfills by 2020, a 75 percent reduction by 2025, and a requirement that 20 percent of currently disposed edible food be recovered for human consumption by 2025.


    Credit: Natural Resources Defense Council April 2017 Strategic Guide

    Ultimately, reducing the amount of surplus food we generate in the first place is the most environmentally beneficial way to cut energy expended and emissions associated with growing, transporting, processing, and storing food. Learn more about CalRecycle’s new Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program, California’s new push to recover edible food for hungry people before it becomes waste, and the state’s latest investments to turn food and other organic waste into renewable energy or increase compost capacity and demand in California.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Jul 3, 2017

  • Getting Organics out of California Landfills: Here’s the Plan

    The average Californian may be shocked to hear this, but that apple core you just tossed in the trash is causing global temperatures to rise. Sure, not by much—but add that apple core to the 6 million tons of food waste and 5 to 6 million tons of additional green material, untreated lumber, and other organic waste landfilled in California each year, and it adds up to a big climate-altering problem. 


    When sent to landfills, food and other organic waste decomposes and generates methane, a short-lived climate pollutant with a heat-trapping effect at least 70 times greater than carbon dioxide.

    This is a big problem because organics (food, green waste, lumber, and other organic materials) is the single largest disposal stream in California, accounting for about 41 percent of the 31 million tons of material going to California landfills each year. The state’s ambitious 75 percent recycling goal, as well as its strategy to combat climate change, hinge upon reducing the amount of organic material sent to landfills. The good news is we know how to do that.

    The California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32, Núñez, Chapter 488, Statutes of 2006) paved the way for bold action on organic waste diversion by establishing the world’s first comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanisms to combat climate change. This enabled California to invest in organics recycling infrastructure like food waste recovery networks, cutting-edge compost facilities, and in-vessel digestion operations that transform food and other organics into compost and carbon-neutral, renewable energy. To date, California Climate Investments has allocated $72 million to California’s waste sector, primarily to build or expand conventional compost and in-vessel digestion operations. Grants have included $5 million for food waste recovery projects that divert landfill-destined, edible food to Californians in need.

    AB 341 (Chesbro, Chapter 476, Statutes of 2011) established a 75 percent recycling, reuse, and waste prevention goal for the state. Since organic waste accounts for more than one-third of the state’s waste stream, CalRecycle staff identified “Moving Organics Out of the Landfill” as the top priority strategy to achieve 75 percent. The Legislature later passed the Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling law (AB 1826, Statutes of 2014), which requires the largest generators of organic waste to recycle the material rather than landfill it.

    In September 2016, Governor Brown signed SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016), establishing targets for reduction of short-lived climate pollutants, including methane. The law calls for a 50 percent reduction of organics in landfills by 2020 and 75 percent reduction by 2025. It grants CalRecycle the regulatory authority necessary to reach these targets, which also include 20 percent of currently disposed edible food be recovered for human consumption by 2025.

    Right now, CalRecycle is engaging waste and recycling businesses, trade associations, and other stakeholders to gather input on the development of regulations to implement SB 1383. Stay up to date on developments and future workshops by joining the SLCP Listerv.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Jun 26, 2017