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More Organic Material In California Landfills

Ed Bierman / Flickr
 

Ed Bierman / Flickr

California put 2 million tons more material into landfills in 2015 than in the previous year, according to new data from CalRecycle. That means the state's residential, business and industry sectors contributed 33.2 million tons to landfills. 40 percent of that is made up of food waste and other organic material.

Heather Jones, a spokesperson with CalRecycle, says it's an unfortunate trend that happens when the economy picks up and more material makes its way into the state's landfills from businesses, industry and individual consumers.

"When you don't have as much money, you don't buy as much stuff. So you don't have to think about where the old stuff goes," Jones says. "When we don't have as much money, we're more vigilant about what we do with our things. Whether we hang on to it, or re-use it or ultimately dispose of it. We are more careful."

But Jones says that correlation is not inevitable. She points to a new law aimed at diverting organic material away from the landfill.

"Businesses that generate a certain amount of green material now have to have organics recycling services.," she says. "And it's kind-of a tiered implementation, so down the road, other businesses will be brought under that law as well."

Individual consumers can reduce their waste footprint by composting, eating leftovers and planning meals before hitting the grocery store. Last year, on a daily basis, the average Californian added 4.7 pounds of material to landfills.