Californians sent roughly 35 million tons of material to the landfill in 2016. That figure corresponds to the lowest recycling rate since the state set a 75 percent recycling goal in 2011.
Biodegradable, compostable organic material makes up 40 percent of California's waste stream. Food waste is a big part of that.
The Natural Resources Defense Council recently launched a campaign to give consumers concrete tips for cutting back on food waste. NRDC's JoAnne Berkenkamp says part of that effort involved building some food waste knowledge into Alexa - Amazon's virtual personal assistant.
"People wanted more input about how to store things correctly," Berkenkamp says. "What goes in the refrigerator, what belongs on the shelf, what goes in the freezer and so forth. And so the Alexa initiative is aimed at giving people that information in a way that's really fun and really easy to use."
When prompted, Alexa says asparagus should be refrigerated upright in a vase, with water covering the base of the stalks, like fresh-cut flowers.
As part of meeting the statewide recycling goals for 2020, Californians would need to cut back what they send to the landfill from six pounds to less than three pounds per person per day.