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California forging ahead with food waste recycling. But is it too much, too fast?

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By AMY TAXIN

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How the hell can they make such a ballsup of what at base is a comparatively simple throughput process? They have been collecting and processing bio material here for ages. Garden waste is collected separately from people who can’t compost it or you take it to the tip (as I do) where it is collected in a separate area and composted then sold to gardeners (helps of course that so many British are in to gardening) the food waste is collected and sent to a bio digester, the methane is used to generate electricity and what is the end result of the process is a rich fertiliser sold to farmers.

All you have to do is think the process through from beginning to end before you start, ensuring you have or create a final use for the end product. You can’t expect to do everything at once, start small and work through the steps so you don’t trip over your self and the build on that and move on.

Not exactly rocket science!

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How the hell can they make such a ballsup of what at base is a comparatively simple throughput process? 

Outside of a few of the biggest cities recycling organic waste has not been done. Until ten yeas ago or so recycling of any kind wasn't practiced in much of the state, and it was very hard to convince a lot of people in smaller towns or the rural San Joaquin Valley that it was necessary. The only city I have ever lived in where yard waste was collected in a separate bin was Los Angeles. No place else. LA was doing that 50 years ago. Even with that food wast went in with the regular trash. The town I live in now almost recalled the City Council over recycling the resistanance to it was so strong. Part of it is cost, but part of it is just a stubborn refusal to do anything seen as "liberal". And of course part of it is a generalized resentment of gub'ment.

San Francisco has been recycling food waste for the past decade or so. They were the first. The infrastructure, meaning businesses equipped to perform such recycling, is not there yet. Many cities including my own struggled to get the public on board with the idea. Too many people are spring loaded to opposed any new requirement to come from the State Legislature. When recycling was first introduced in my town a lot of people I knew refused to take the blue bin and refused to segregate recyclables from regular trash. Now you have people who refuse to use the food waste bin.

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Any garden waste I don't put in my compost bin goes in the council one and is collected every fortnight. Some stuff is too woody, too sludgey (grass) or may contain plant pathogens, so is not suitable for home composting. Local councils use it in parks and sell it to gardeners. Food waste levels are so low that it is hardly worth the effort, but some folk have containers for that too. Banana skins (which are rich in potassium and phosphorous) and fruit peelings are really good for your compost. Eat what you buy and buy what you eat, and your food waste will be tiny. Your fridge should not be treated as a convenience store for you to pick from.

If they have surplus of compost, just truck it off to local farms. Not rocket science. It's only considered 'expensive' because councils have been doing it the cheap and dirty way for years and pretending that the cost of that part of the supply chain was zero.

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