In a heap of waste destined for a landfill on the Edom Hill Transfer Station floor lies the root of California’s recycling problem: tons of recyclables and yard and food waste lost in the trash.
Half-eaten and spoiled food leaks into unsalvaged cardboard and paper, leaving a stinking sop on the dusty cement floor in Cathedral City.
“We could pull a lot of stuff out there,” said Pat Sherman, a Burrtec transfer and compost operations general manager, looking out over the watermelon rinds, cardboard and metal mixed in with the trash.
With mostly businesses sending materials that could have been recycled or composted to landfills instead, California is nowhere near its trash reduction goal set almost five years ago.
Back in 2011, state legislators set a policy goal that California would reduce, recycle or compost 75 percent of what would have been trash by 2020.
But since the recycling goal was announced, California’s source-reduction, recycling and composting rates haven’t improved from 50 percent.