Fewer people in California recycled compared to 2020, data shows

If you're doing your part in recycling to make it a better Earth, here's how to make sure you're doing it correctly.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2022
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Fewer people in California recycled compared to 2020, new data shows. But if you're doing your part in recycling to make it a better Earth, here's how to make sure you're doing it the right way.

SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (KGO) -- CalRecycle released new data Tuesday on America Recycles Day, which shows the statewide recycling rate dropped from 2020.

The data estimates the statewide recycling rate was 40% in 2021, compared to 42 percent in 2020.

During CalRecycle's November public meeting on Tuesday, CalRecycle Director Rachel Machi Wagoner addressed that drop, saying:

"While that is not where we would like to be, I see this as an opportunity, a true opportunity for us to look at how we can do more. Like the video highlighted, Californians are recycling everything from tires to e-waste to our beverage containers at record numbers, but there is more for us yet to do. I want to especially thank the Governor and the legislature for providing us nearly $800 million over the next couple of years to make those changes to invest in a circular economy here in California."

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More than 2,000 recycling events are held around the country on America Recycles Day with more than two million people participating.

The City of San Leandro allowed residents to properly dispose of items such as pharmaceuticals, household batteries and even DVDs at the Marina Community Center Tuesday. Residents had to register ahead of time.

America Recycles Day is a good reminder to recycle and do it right.

When recycling plastic food containers, Tonya Alves Richardson, Solid Waste & Recycling Specialist with San Leandro, said they ask their residents to make sure the containers are clean and dry.

"There is the whole tension between, 'We live in the Bay area, we have a drought,'" Richardson said. "'How much cleaning are we going to do of our containers?' So we try to send the message.. a quick rinse of a jar or some other kind of container that you're going to put in your recycling. But it is important that it's dry so it doesn't contaminate the other materials that are in the recycling bin."

VIDEO: Recyclable plastic is ending up in landfills

California has some measures in place to boost recycling.

CalRecycle said new legislation will require all packaging be recyclable or compostable by 2032, with 65% of it recycled by 2032.

TAKE ACTION: Get help with recycling, trash, composting

A list by the Environmental Protection Agency of how to recycle correctly.
A list by the Environmental Protection Agency of how to recycle correctly.

Here are a few recycling tips from the EPA:

  • Flatten cardboard boxes before putting them in the bin
  • You can recycle mail, even envelopes with plastic windows
  • Broken glass should not go into the recycling bin
  • Aluminum cans should not be crushed before they are recycled
  • Keep in mind, some jurisdictions may do things a little differently when it comes to recycling, so check with recycling officials where you live.

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