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How to Successfully Manage Your Waste in California

Updated: Feb 29

waste management in california, colored waste bins


In California, waste sorting has emerged as a cornerstone of sustainable living, reducing landfill waste and environmental pollution, conserving natural resources, reducing the demand for virgin raw materials, lessening greenhouse gas emissions, and promoting a circular economy, where resources are reused and recycled, reducing the extraction and production of new materials.


Waste sorting isn't just about separating trash from recyclables; it's a fundamental shift in mindset that prioritizes resource recovery and environmental stewardship. By sorting our waste at the source, we unlock the potential to divert significant amounts of material from landfills and create new economic opportunities through recycling and composting.


California's Commitment to Recycling

Recycling is the practice of recovering used materials from the waste stream and then incorporating those same materials into the manufacturing process.


California's commitment to recycling is evident in its comprehensive recycling infrastructure and robust regulatory framework. From bottle deposit programs to curbside recycling initiatives, the state has implemented a variety of measures to encourage residents and businesses to participate in recycling efforts.


Most communities in California offer residential curbside collection or drop-off sites for most recyclable materials, such as the ones listed below. For items you can’t recycle in your curbside bin, check out the Where to Recycle Map for the nearest recycling centers near you. California’s infrastructure even manages materials that tend to be sent to landfill like organic material, electronic waste, carpet, used oil, paint, and mattresses.


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 compostable or recovered materials and, in turn, consumers purchasing products made of recycled materials.


Composting in California

Composting and organic waste diversion plays a significant role in waste management efforts. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), organic materials such as food scraps and yard waste make up about 30% of the waste stream. The EPA also estimates that organic waste decomposition in landfills is a significant source of methane emissions, accounting for about 14% of total U.S. methane emissions in 2019. By composting organic waste we can divert a significant portion away from landfills, reduce methane emissions and mitigate climate change.


Many municipalities in California have implemented curbside organic waste collection programs, allowing residents to easily separate food scraps and yard waste for composting. These programs are crucial for increasing participation in composting and diverting organic waste from landfills.


Beginning in 2022, California implemented Senate Bill 1383, which established targets for organic waste diversion. The law requires jurisdictions to implement organic waste recycling programs to all residents and businesses, including composting, to reduce landfill disposal of organic waste by 75% by 2025.


California also encourages composting at commercial and agricultural scales. Farms, vineyards, and food processing facilities can compost organic waste on-site or through specialized composting facilities. This not only reduces waste disposal costs but also provides valuable compost for soil health and crop production.



Composting also offers numerous ecological benefits. It enriches soil with nutrients, improves soil structure and water retention, reduces erosion, and promotes biodiversity. Compost-amended soils also require less water and synthetic fertilizers, contributing to water conservation and reduced chemical runoff.


Beyond municipal and commercial programs, there's a growing interest in community and home composting, as well as new compostable materials. Community gardens, schools, and nonprofits often host composting initiatives, teaching residents about the benefits of composting and providing resources for starting their own compost bins or piles at home, and there is a growing industry of compostable materials that aim to replace those that were previously destined for the landfill.


Problems with Composting


Although states like California have adopted organic waste diversion practices and compostable products have gained prominence as an alternative product that can be transformed into usable soil upon disposal, many communities are still lacking in infrastructure. Inadequate composting facilities mean that compostable products often end up in landfills alongside their non-biodegradable counterparts, where they decompose anaerobically, releasing methane into the atmosphere.

As individuals strive to reduce their ecological footprint, it is crucial to be aware of local composting capabilities and work towards a future where compostable products can fulfill their potential in a world equipped to manage them sustainably. By addressing the infrastructure gap and fostering a culture of responsible consumption, we can inch closer to a greener, more sustainable future.

At Cruz Foam, we are committed to sustainability and responsible waste reduction. Our biobased packaging products break down easily and comply with the ASTM 6400 compostability standards. Our products generate high-quality organic waste that enhances the nutritional value and effectiveness of compost at both individual and industrial levels. Join us in building a sustainable future by embracing compostable products and supporting the development of robust composting facilities.


What goes in the Landfill?


Landfill-bound waste poses significant environmental, social, and health risks, highlighting the importance of reducing waste generation, increasing recycling and composting efforts, and finding alternative waste management solutions to minimize its impact on the environment and human health.


Few things, once they are used, are actually trash. Among such things are non-recyclable plastics and other complex materials that were not designed to be recycled.



Landfill space is limited and costly in California, leading to restrictions on what can be disposed of in landfills and increasing emphasis on alternative waste management methods. In addition, there is a growing emphasis on reducing single-use plastics through bans or restrictions on items like plastic bags, straws, and polystyrene containers.


In addition, there’s no question that sustainable alternatives have become a top priority for both brands and consumers alike. New sustainable packaging materials continue to emerge thanks to various innovations and a laser focus on creating eco-friendly options.

Cruz Foam's earth-friendly product is derived from all naturally occurring materials. Instead of breaking down into microplastics, Cruz Foam decomposes into high-quality organic waste. It’s nutrient-rich instead of toxic.


The Role of Waste Sorting in Achieving Zero Waste


At the heart of California's waste management strategy lies the concept of zero waste—a philosophy that aims to minimize waste generation and maximize resource recovery. Waste sorting plays a crucial role in this vision by enabling the separation of recyclable materials, organic waste, and hazardous substances, thereby facilitating their proper disposal or processing. Through education, outreach, and innovative sorting technologies, California is paving the way towards a circular economy where waste is viewed as a valuable resource rather than a disposable nuisance.


Tips for Effective Waste Sorting


  1. Know Your Local Recycling Guidelines: Familiarize yourself with your community's recycling rules and regulations to ensure that you're sorting your waste correctly.

  2. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Whenever possible, prioritize waste reduction and reuse over recycling. Opt for reusable products, avoid single-use plastics, and donate or repurpose items instead of discarding them.

  3. Separate Recyclables from Trash: Set up separate bins for recyclables, organic waste, and non-recyclable trash to streamline the sorting process and maximize resource recovery.

  4. Educate Others: Spread awareness about the importance of waste sorting and recycling within your community. Encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to join you in making sustainable choices.


Waste sorting is a powerful tool for building a more sustainable future. This represents a tangible step towards achieving our collective goal of zero waste. By embracing this simple yet impactful practice, we can preserve our planet for future generations and pave the way towards a greener, cleaner tomorrow.


Contact us today to learn more about our products and how they contribute to a brighter, more sustainable future—for California and beyond.


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