California Way Behind Schedule On Climate Promise

California is way behind schedule on meeting one of its major climate promises — keeping organic waste out of its landfills.

It was two years ago that the state announced that it would be launching new initiatives to do so, including setting up food recycling programs. When the programs were announced, they had target dates for waste reduction of 2025.

Now, it’s become so accepted that those targets are never going to be met.

California had a goal of keeping organic materials out of landfills, hoping to turn it instead into biogas or compost.

The reason why the state was so focused on eliminating organic materials such as yard waste and food scraps is that, over time, they emit methane. That gas is much more damaging and potent in the short-term than the carbon that’s emitted from various fossil fuels.

Organic waste includes everything from old coffee grounds to banana peels to used paper products such as pizza boxes. In California, businesses and households alike are supported to keep all of that material placed in a separate bin from their regular trash.

State officials have found it quite difficult to change the behavior of people. In addition, the pandemic caused many cities to have trouble setting up proper contracts with hauling companies to take the organic waste away.

Coby Skye, who recently retired as the Los Angeles County Public Works’ deputy director for environmental science, told Fox News:

“We’re way behind on implementation. In America, for better or worse, we want convenience, and it’s very difficult to spend a lot of time and effort educating people about separation.”

Another negative effect of the program is that some communities that have been successful in ramping up their collection efforts have so much compost on hand that they don’t know what to do with it all. So, those communities have been great at collecting the waste, but not very successful at all at putting it to good use — meaning they aren’t recycling it well.

Just a few states in the nation mandate that organics be recycled, and those that do aren’t forging ahead with a program that’s as large as the one in California, which is seeking to reduce the amount of organic waste that’s sent to landfills by 75% by 2025. That percentage is based off the total amount of such waste that was sent to landfills in 2014.

Many experts say it’ll be nearly impossible at this point for the state to meet that goal.

Almost 75% of communities in California are actually collecting organic waste from the homes in their jurisdiction, according to the director of CalRecycle, Rachel Machi Wagoner.

She said that the state isn’t looking to punish those communities that are behind, but to push them to start their programs.

Wagoner took an optimistic viewpoint on the situation when she said:

“My goal is about figuring out where the challenges are and getting us as quickly as possible to success. I don’t know when we will reach our 75% goal, but we will reach it.”