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

  • Eco Holiday Habits to Get on Santa's Nice List

    During the holidays many of us gather to share special meals, exchange gifts, and enjoy ourselves. As you prepare to host gatherings for your loved ones, consider how your celebrations create waste that contributes to climate change and adds to the growing amount of plastic in landfills. Are you being naughty or nice to the planet?

    Here are three ways to get on the planet’s Nice List this holiday season

    Naughty food waste; nice compost

    Naughty: Throwing Food in the Trash
    Nice: Lowering Food Waste with Meal Plans and Composting

    Meal Plan for Zero Food Waste

    Many of us consider lavish spreads of favorite holiday dishes the hallmark of a caring host. But excess food gives off high amounts of the potent greenhouse gas methane once it’s dumped in a landfill. This is a major cause of climate change.

    Rethink your hosting ideals, brand your gathering eco-friendly, then don’t overbuy or overcook.

    Use the food GUEST-IMATOR tool to plan how much to prepare. If there are leftovers you know you won’t finish, send food home with your guests in reusable containers.

    Clean your plate or compost the rest.

    Try composting your food waste. If your curbside organics collection doesn’t accept food, ask local community gardens if you can contribute to their compost bin.

    Consider setting up your own home compost. It can help grow healthier, heartier plants. Winter is the ideal time to start compost that will be ready to add to your garden in the spring.

    Easy tips for starting to compost

    naughty: single use disposable plastic. Nice: reusable dishes.

    Naughty: Single-Use Plastic
    Nice: Reusable Dishes and Utensils

    “Disposable” Plastic Lasts Forever

    Many hosts choose the ease of disposable plates, cutlery, and cups for holiday gatherings. But that plastic your guests use for just a few minutes will never biodegrade. It stays on the planet, slowly breaking down into toxic microplastics.

    About 10 percent of all trash is plastic. Forty million Californians create more than 3.2 million tons of plastic waste every year.

    Reusable plates and cutlery give the gift of a cleaner planet. Less trash in landfills is worth a few extra minutes of cleanup.

    Naughty: dirty recyclables; nice: clean recyclables

    Naughty: Dirty Recyclables
    Nice: Clean Recyclables 

    Rinse Containers Before Recycling

    Recyclables tainted with food or water can leak onto surrounding paper and cardboard, and create a contaminated, unrecyclable mess. In 2018 China stopped accepting certain US mixed recyclable shipments because many arrived full of mold and had to be thrown away in landfills.

    Clean your containers to keep recycling from becoming garbage. 

    Not sure about that greasy pizza box? Tear off the oily parts and toss those in the trash. The remaining clean cardboard can go in your blue bin.

    Check out this quick video on recycling contamination.

    With a few small changes, you can make a difference for the planet even as you enjoy this festive season. Get more eco-friendly holiday hints to use this year.

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Dec 23, 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

  • Reducing is the New Recycling

    Simple Changes I’ve Made Since Coming to Work at CalRecycle

    Sometime in the last year, I had an epiphany: It’s not enough to simply recycle. I must figure out a way to reduce the amount of waste I generate. It can be hard, but I decided to take it one step at a time. Here are a couple of things I have learned along my way to a more eco-friendly lifestyle. 

    Separating Out My Recyclables Influences How I Shop

    Truth be told, before working at CalRecycle I only separated out CRV items and cardboard to recycle. I honestly didn’t think about folding down cereal and pasta boxes or crumpling paper shipping packaging into a recycling bin before working here. Now that I do it, I realize just how many resources I have thrown away over my lifetime. 

    I have found that I have unintentionally generated more waste in the pursuit of other goals. For example, conveniently packaged individual-size snacks may help with calorie-counting or meal prep, but there’s no doubt it creates more waste. I came to terms with the fact that generating less waste is going to cost me some time and effort, but I can manage to juggle two goals at once by doing things a little differently. For example, rather than buy a bunch of small, single-serving yogurts for a quick breakfast on the go, I buy one large container of yogurt and transfer it into small mason jars.  

    Using Reusable Items over Single-Use Items

    Have you ever wondered how much trash you have thrown away over a lifetime? It’s a little shocking when you think about it. Let’s say I bought one cup of coffee from a cafe per week for the last 20 years. I have thrown away at least 1,040 disposable cups of varying sizes. Because those cups are often lined with a thin plastic coating, they’re not easily recyclable. I still use disposable cups when I forget my tumbler at home, but I’m aiming to bring it with me and reduce my personal waste. 

    I have also started declining anything I won’t actually use when I order takeout food, like individually wrapped toppings I don’t like, extra napkins, straws, and cutlery. I have found that only some beverages require a straw (like milkshakes), and I don’t need single-use plastic cutlery when I’m bringing food home to eat. I am not a fan of nuts, so I started declining a small plastic pouch of nuts for my favorite drive-thru ice cream. My baby steps are adding up.

    Buying Groceries Mindfully to Prevent Food Waste

    Food waste causes climate change. Until I worked at CalRecycle, I had no idea that my spoiled leftovers had an impact on anything more than my personal finances. You can read more on our Climate Methane Emissions Reductions webpage about how food waste creates methane when it’s buried in a landfill, but the gist is that every plate of food we scrape into the trash contributes to climate change. I decided I could be a little bit better about eating what I buy. I move “eat now” items toward the front of my refrigerator and write a more detailed grocery list so I don’t buy items I won’t likely cook and eat. 

    Everyone can head toward a more sustainable lifestyle by assessing how they personally generate waste and looking for ways to reduce that amount. Every step counts, and we all play a part in conserving our natural resources, recycling everything we can, and combating climate change. 

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Sep 23, 2019