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“It all ends up in the landfill anyways.”

If I got a dollar for every time I heard that phrase, well, I would be rich.

So, let’s put a nail in that coffin: No, your recycling – if it is a recyclable material – does NOT end up in a landfill.

Luckily in Napa we are close to the Port of Oakland which gives us access to markets others unfortunately don’t have. Plus, having our own material recovery facility and recently upgraded modern machines, means we are able to recycle some items other communities cannot, like cartons.

This is true for the city and surrounding areas of Napa County for bottles and cans, metal, clean paper, cardboard, rigid plastics, glass, and cartons.

Yes, the recycling market is struggling due to China and the Sword Policy; dirty recycling/wishful-recycling; lack of domestic infrastructure; cost of virgin plastic; confusing and sometime misleading product labeling; and lack of extended producer responsibility …. to name just a few!

Also, let it be known that Styrofoam, hoses, electrical cords and film/soft/flimsy plastic have never been accepted in our blue recycling carts.

China has decided to take on new ventures and wants to reduce the amount of domestic production they are doing alongside not wanting to receive the world’s trash anymore. Mixed in with those bales of “recyclables” was a large amount of un-recyclable (a.k.a. trash) materials.

When a GOLIATH like China, who had been processing 60 percent of the world’s recyclables, shuts its doors, the markets get flooded and freaked out. Now everyone is scrambling to find new and alternate markets, with many countries lacking in infrastructure to utilize and recycle the materials domestically.

We all must redouble our efforts to clean the recycling up, stop wishful-recycling, start creating infrastructure, and demand that manufacturers take some responsibility!

Wishful Recycling is when people put items that they think should be recyclable (like film/flexible/soft plastics) into their recycling cart, but it isn’t. Or they actually don’t know, are confused by labels and because there are “sorters” it will be all OK cause someone else will figure it out.


When you have doubt, check online. Check our website,, or a search engine. If you still cannot figure it out, throw it out.

We in this industry are hoping that domestic infrastructure becomes a reality. Instead of shipping items across the world to recycle, why not have that available to us in our own backyards? And more than that: making producers responsible for their product … so called “cradle to cradle” responsibility.

It’s called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and it means that the manufacturer has shared responsibility for the product at its end of life, ensuring that it is not only up to the general public (your tax dollars) to pay for its proper disposal and to ensure it does not harm human and environmental health.

An EPR example would be that $14 fee you had to pay for a new car battery. You receive that $14 back when you return the old one, which has ensured that there is a 99 percent RECYCLING RATE! Before this, people would dump batteries on the side of the road, in waterways, or bury them in the ground—polluting our streets, our water ways, and our soil, respectively.

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This monthly column is written by Kendra Bruno, aka Compost Girl, who is the waste prevention specialist for the city of Napa. To submit questions, email


City Editor

Kevin has been city editor since September 2010. He joined the Register in 1973 as a reporter. He covered Napa City Hall and assorted other beats over the years. Kevin has been writing his Napa Journal column on Sundays since 1989.