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

  • Waste Characterization Studies: The Video

    Last week, we wrote about How Waste Characterization Studies Work. Now, in technicolor and right on your own computer screen, we bring you the video.


    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Oct 25, 2018

  • Trick or Treat?

    Eco-Friendly Options for Halloween

    All those decorations and costumes can be terrifyingly tempting to purchase this Halloween. Plus, those single-use spider webs, silly straws, and synthetic fabric costumes are so convenient. But, all those festive items don’t end up resting in peace in a landfill—they live disturbingly in dreadful dumps for many years, sometimes an eternity. Here’s how you can make a smart choice between a tricky item and a treat.

    spider webs


    Single-use spider webs are realistic, but they’re also made from petrifying polyester and are meant to only be used one time. Sure, you can try using them again, but you end up with clumps of sticky strands. Try using yarn to make reusable spider webs for your horrifying haunted house.

    Playing Dress-Up

    Dressing up is arguably the best part of Halloween, and opting for reusable and higher-quality costumes and accessories can ensure you have a good time every year. Instead of purchasing fast-fashion costumes that won’t last, consider making costumes from things you already have around your house. 

    S-carry On

    Sure, the plastic pumpkin has been a Halloween staple for trick-or-treaters to carry their ghoulish goodies, but how about going old-school and using a pillowcase instead? Add some decorations for a frightfully festive look.

    Light the Night

    Glow sticks are creepily cool and are a safer alternative to candles in your jack-o’-lanterns, but like other Halloween decorations, they’re made to only be used one time. Use small, battery-powered “candles” instead or flashlights when lighting up the night. (Don’t forget to use rechargeable batteries!)

    Ghost Host

    If you’re hosting a party this year, invite people through text or social media, or in person. Skip the paper invitations, especially those made with items that are not easily recyclable like gruesome glitter, petrifying plastic, or frightening foil.


    Eat, Drink, and Be Scary

    Ditch those disposables! Leave the paper plates, plastic utensils, plastic cups, and straws at the store and use your everyday plates, cups, and utensils. Go the extra step with cloth napkins.

    Well, bats all folks. Until next HalloGREEN!

    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Oct 22, 2018

  • It’s a Dirty Job, but Someone’s Gotta Do It!

    How Waste Characterization Studies Work

    Who wants to dig through anyone’s trash? Well, we do! Sort of ...

    In an ideal world we wouldn’t have waste, but as long as we do, we gather as much information as we can from the material Californians throw away. Every few years CalRecycle conducts a waste characterization study, which provides us with information about what goes to California landfills.

    How does it work?

    We contact waste management companies throughout California that are willing to participate in the study. A work station with labeled bins is set up at a transfer station, material recovery facility, or landfill. A load of trash, often in garbage bags, is spread onto a sorting table where our CalRecycle contractors pick through each piece of individual trash and places it in the designated bin. Once every piece of waste is sorted into its bin, the material in each bin is weighed and documented. Then another load of trash is placed on the sorting table, and the process starts all over again until the designated amount of waste is sorted.

    What do we do with the data?

    We collect all the data, write a report, and make the report public so anyone can visit our website and see exactly what California throws away. The data is used to inform waste management policies and laws. We also use it for our education and outreach programs.

    Why is this study important?

    Information is a good thing, especially when it is collected and analyzed in a scientific manner. We share our waste characterization data not only with the public, but also with lawmakers who propose and pass waste-management laws in California. California often leads the way when it comes to policy change in the United States. We use this data collected from the study to start positively affecting climate change and pollution. We can also find out how much food is being wasted to help prevent future waste while also creating programs to feed the hungry.

    Working at CalRecycle affords me the opportunity to participate in waste characterization studies—to an extent. I don’t pick through the trash, categorize it, or analyze the results, but I do get up close and personal by documenting the process in photos. I also get to use the statistics from the study to inform the public. Sure, I know it sounds glamorous, but there are some downsides. Not only is the smell sobering, but so are the mounds and mounds of wasted food— and that’s just one type of waste. There are many more! The good news is, conducting these studies can help us promote food recovery programs that can get edible food to the 1 in 5 Californians who are food-insecure.

    So the next time you toss that trash, just know we’re on the other side picking through it to find out what California wastes and how we can prevent it.

    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Oct 18, 2018