Recycling is the practice of recovering used materials from the waste stream and then incorporating those same materials into the manufacturing process. California has a robust recycling infrastructure that manages beverage containers, organic material, electronic waste, carpet, used oil, paint, and mattresses.
Most communities in California offer residential curbside collection or drop-off sites for certain recyclable materials. For items you can’t recycle in your curbside bin, check out the Where to Recycle Map for the nearest recycling center near you.
Mandatory commercial and residential organics recycling
In September 2016, Governor Edmund Brown Jr. set methane emissions reduction targets for California (SB 1383 Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016) in a statewide effort to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP). The targets must:
- Reduce organic waste disposal 50% by 2020 and 75% by 2025.
- Rescue for people to eat at least 20% of currently disposed surplus food by 2025.
Starting in 2022, all jurisdictions will to need to provide organic waste collection services to all residents and businesses and recycle these organic materials using recycling facilities. All generators must recycle their organic waste (food and green waste). Please contact your local representative or hauler to learn more and begin service.
For jurisdictions with an approved department issued waiver or exemption, the below MCR and MORe thresholds still apply.
The law also requires businesses and other public entities to recycle as much of the waste they generate as possible. AB 341 (Chesbro, Chapter 476, Statutes of 2011) requires that businesses that generate four cubic yards or more of commercial solid waste (trash) per week or are a multifamily residential dwelling of five units or more must now arrange for recycling services.
About half of California’s waste stream is organic material like yard trimmings, food waste, and lumber. Organic material can be diverted from landfills into composting and anaerobic digestion facilities where it is transformed into rich soil amendments and biofuel. California is aiming to reduce the amount of organic waste by 50 percent by 2020 and by 75 percent by 2025. In order to achieve this target, AB 1826 (Chesbro, Chapter 727, Statutes of 2014) requires commercial businesses to arrange for organic waste recycling services if they generate 2 cubic yards of solid waste per week.
Collection, transportation, and recycling packinghouse waste, such as raw, unprocessed meat, poultry and fish materials from commercial food facilities, is regulated by the California Department of Agriculture (CDFA). Please e-mail questions about how to handle and recycle raw, meat, poultry and fish scraps to email@example.com.
Close the Loop
Collecting materials is only the first step toward making the recycling process work. Successful recycling also depends on manufacturers making products from recovered materials and, in turn, consumers purchasing products made of recycled materials. Do
your part--"close the loop" and buy products made of recycled materials whenever possible.
Where to Recycle
Recycling for Schools and State Agencies
- School Waste Reduction and Recycling. Schools can help communities reduce their waste, while saving money and teaching kids valuable lessons.
- State Agency Resources. Includes resources to assist state agencies in their implementation of waste prevention, reuse, and recycling programs to reduce waste.
- Waste Management for State Agencies
Resources and Tools
Best Practices in Waste Reduction Video (October 2009). Reducing waste can save you money, conserve energy and resources, and reduce air, soil, and water pollution. This 12-chapter video shows you real options for recycling, reducing, or reusing solid waste products. All chapters are on our Video Central Training page and on YouTube. Helping promote California’s development of markets for recyclable materials is part of our mission. We can help you with technical, financial, and permitting assistance. Please feel free to contact CalRecycle's Office of Public Affairs for more information.
- Food Waste. Food scraps can be turned into valuable soil amendments through the simple techniques of composting or feeding a worm box.
- Tire Recycling. Californians use a lot of tires, which can be recycled in California to produce crumb rubber for new products, recycled in rubberized asphalt concrete (RAC), used in civil engineering applications as tire-derived aggregate (TDA), or combusted as fuel.
- Used Oil Recycling. Oil doesn't wear out, it just gets dirty! Find out more...
- Recycling Coordinator Information and Resources. Materials and assistance to help you set up and operate a successful waste reduction program in your business, office, or locality.
- Earth 911. Find locations near you that accept and recycle more than 350 products and materials, using one of North America's most extensive recycling databases.
- TerraCycle. TerraCycle offers free and paid recycling options for hard to recycle materials. Learn more about their recycle by mail programs at their website.