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

  • 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

  • Life’s What You Bake It: How I Started Sieving My Dreams


    Originally posted by tsixiraki

    As many people do at the turn of the calendar, I started evaluating my life. Job? Check! Education? Check! House with a cool artificial drought-friendly lawn? Check! I was left with a big, “Now what?” hanging over me. The only logical answer was cake … and not just one cake, but 52—one every week for the entire year.

    If you’ve ever gone on a baking spree, you’re probably familiar with leftover ingredients and scraps. In fact, when you’re learning, there can be even more waste. I felt my eco-guilt wagging its green finger at me every time I accidentally mixed the wrong ingredients and had to throw everything away. I also got tired of seeing all these leftover cake domes (the round part on top of the cake) and excess frosting. Throwing them away is a crime against cake and the planet if you ask me! So I did some research, which resulted in two ways to cut down cake waste.

    One option was to eliminate the cake dome altogether using baking strips, which are soaked in water and wrapped around the cake pan. The strips can be made from kitchen towels or purchased if you’re not the DIY type. The end result is more even baking and a level top perfect for layering without a need to cut off a dome.

    If you don’t want to go this route, there’s another solution: the cake truffle!

    Also known as a cake ball or stickless cake pop, the cake truffle is a tastier solution to the baking waste problem in my kitchen. To make a cake truffle, all you need is leftover cake, frosting, and melted candy coating (melted chocolate chips will work just fine).

    Here’s how to make these delightfully waste-free morsels: 

    1. Crumble your leftover cake with your fingers or a food processor.
    2. Mix in a little bit of the leftover frosting until the crumbs are coated enough to hold a ball shape. It’s better to mix in a little at a time—too much frosting will make the truffle squishy, and it won’t hold its shape.
    3. Use a spoon to measure out an even amount of the cake and frosting mix and roll into a ball with your hands. Repeat until you’re out of mix.
    4. To set the balls, put them in the refrigerator while you’re melting the candy coating.
    5. I recommend using almond bark, because it’s a little more user-friendly than melting baking chocolate. The instructions are self-explanatory: Put the bark in a pot, and melt the bark on a stove. Once the candy coating is melted, place one cake ball on top of a fork (don’t stab it; gently place it). Dip it in the melted bark and coat the truffle. Gently place the coated truffle on parchment paper (or a silicone mat if you’re being extra eco-friendly). If you want, sprinkle a garnish on top before the candy coating dries. Repeat until all your truffles are coated.

    That’s it! You’ve got yourself a waste-free dessert. I recommend bringing them to work to share—it’s a great way to make friends! And if you want to up your zero-waste baking game, do what I do: Instead of plastic pastry decorating bags, try reusable ones. They’re canvas and easy to clean, and if you bake as much as I do, you’ll be reducing plastic waste. I also use silicone cupcake liners instead of paper ones. 


    I’ll leave you with this: Make cake, not waste.

    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Jun 12, 2017