February 2018 Newsletter
In December, Nature Village volunteers accompanied the Cal Zero Waste team to tour the Republic West Recycling Center and commercial composting facility. We got to see how recycling and compost are initially sorted when they reach the facility. While the sorted bales of aluminum for recycling look relatively attractive, the sights and smells on the sorting floor reminded us to be extra careful not to put trash and non-recyclables into the recycling bins!
The second stop on our tour was at the commercial composting facility. Here we learned just how much plastic makes its way into the compost, despite the efforts of the workers to remove it by hand with pitchforks. Even many “compostable” rigid plastics do not decompose properly during the controlled process, and fragments remain in the finished compost. The finished compost is sorted into “overs” and usable compost, but the majority of it is unfortunately “overs” which must go to the landfill.
The takeaway: food and vegetable scraps are great in the compost, but mixed materials such as cartons and rigid compostable plastics (containers, forks, cups, etc.) are better avoided due to the difficulty in composting them successfully.
Overs (left) and finished compost (right)