California adopts new recycling and composting law

According to information printed on a mailed City of Fresno, California distribution I received on Jan. 6, 2022 pertaining to (as best I could tell) residential waste recycling, American households produce in excess of, on average, one quarter more waste (by weight, presumably), between Thanksgiving and New Years, than what is presumably generated per residential dwelling unit conversely between Jan. 1st and Thanksgiving. (Disclosure: On the mailed distribution in question, there was no reference made as to what the source of that information is).

So, per household, say Americans on average generate five pounds of waste daily between New Years and Thanksgiving. And, if over a quarter more waste by weight is produced per day on average by American households between Thanksgiving and New Years Day which is 1.25+ pounds of refuse over and above that produced between the first day of January and Thanksgiving, what we’re looking at then is a combined 6.25+ pounds of American household waste per day total on average during the late fall/early winter holiday season.

In that light, a laudable New Years Resolution would be to have as much of that waste as is practicable going to recycling and composting and the least amount heading to the landfill via traditional waste collection and dumping means.

So, different people take different approaches when it comes to waste disposal. Some are more conscious of how they dispose of their waste, taking time to separate compostables from recyclables from the so-called regular trash. Others are less careful or particular in terms of separating out certain kinds of waste. While still others are out and out reckless or entirely indifferent about what waste goes where.

Well, in California, beginning this year, a new ordinance concerning where what household waste product or material is directed, goes into effect. The point of this is so more and more of said discards will be destined for composting and recycling while less and less solid refuse will end up being landfilled. According to what I remember hearing, those who don’t comply with the new law (and are caught) will be fined for non-compliance.

I’m sure the change is in response to increasing emission of methane from landfills into the air and thus contributing to further warming of the Earth and climate change.

What goes where

In Fresno, the place I call home, residential waste is separated based on the type of item or material it consists of. City employees responsible for picking up, emptying and transporting the respective separated waste do so in trucks designed for hauling the specific type of waste in question, all of which happens on the same day one day per week. For the most part the trucks are themselves so-called “clean” vehicles, which means the fuel that these trucks burn is cleaner or is burned more cleanly or both compared to what is otherwise done using comparable conventional internal-combustion-engine-equipped waste-hauling rigs.

That said, compostable materials – the so-called “green” waste – gets placed in so-designated green-colored bin. Things like grass, hedge, shrub and tree clippings; leaves, most perishable foodstuffs like banana peels, lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit – citrus – pulp and rinds; green, yellow, orange, red and leafy veggies; grains and more all qualify as it relates here. Large tree branches and tree trunks and stumps along with treated lumber products, on the other hand, do not qualify. Special arrangements may be necessary in terms of their being properly disposed of.

Recyclable materials, namely, paper, plastic, metal and glass, are accordingly to be placed into the blue-colored bin. There are, however, certain types of plastics that are not recyclable. This is where checking product packaging first can prove to be an invaluable asset. Ceramics as well as styrofoam, for example, are, as far as I’m aware, not recyclable. So it could definitely be to one’s advantage to become familiarized or current on what is recyclable and what is not.

As it relates, in situations where paper napkins become soiled and cannot be adequately cleaned and, therefore, do not meet conditions for recycling, it may be preferable then to use a cloth napkin in place of a paper equivalent that can then be laundered and reused. By doing such, this action will invariably cut down on paper use.

And, finally, the so-called “regular” trash gets directed for disposal and pickup using the gray-colored container. Articles like non-compostable food; not-to-be-donated, worn clothing; dryer lint; vacuum cleaner container contents; styrofoam; ceramics; nut shells; fruit pits; cloth; used, worn out sponges and other types of non-recyclable and non-compostable items designated as acceptable for disposal and for placement in the so-called “regular” refuse container is to go that route.

Meanwhile, automotive items such as used motor oil and oil filters, electronics products like computers and cell phones, along with all other items or materials such as chemicals, poisons, pesticides and more that don’t meet typical acceptance collection and handling criteria as would be the case with green, recyclable or conventional trash or garbage waste, must be disposed of properly. Special arrangement regarding proper disposal thereof could very well be what is required. In this regard, it would no doubt be best to check with the local representative authority in regard to this particular waste-disposal aspect should there be any question.

Oh, and there is one other item of note. In the case of recyclables-handling and disposal in the city of Fresno, it is helpful indeed to flatten cardboard boxes destined for recycling before placing in the appropriate bin for collection. Any such items used to package food, ideally, should be free of food residue, before, it too, is designated as recyclable-pickup ready. This is my understanding regarding this matter, at least.

If every interested person does his or her part to adhere to the waste disposal guidelines, this will not only result in said waste being properly processed but cleaner air and a healthier environment all around will result also.

All of this may require a little extra effort on a household-by-household basis, but when all is said and done, in the long run, it will all be well worth it.

– Alan Kandel

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