5 Easy Ways to Cut Back on Food Waste

dehydrated fruits

Food requires a lot of resources, including land, water and energy. It should come as no surprise then, that the food we waste accounts for a whopping six percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Fortunately, it’s not hard to cut back on food waste. It can even be fun! Check out these five ideas for waste-preventing, emission-reducing inspiration.

1. Store food properly

How you store food makes a big difference in how long it lasts. First, check out this food storage guide from the EPA to learn which foods last longer when kept inside your fridge and which ones don’t. Next, find out what parts of your fridge are best for which foods.

2. Freeze, dehydrate or pickle food that’s about to go bad

If you have too much food sitting in your fridge, don’t let it go to waste! Extra bananas can be peeled and frozen for future use in breads and smoothies, while other fruit like peaches and berries can be frozen and stored for smoothies, pies and other baked goods. Uncooked meat can be frozen for future meals, and cooked meals like soup can be frozen for an easy meal on a lazy day.

Have an abundance of fruit or veggies from your garden harvest or a deal at the supermarket? Try dehydrating and storing them for use later. This guide will help you reach the perfect level of dehydration for storage.

If you have extra veggies like cabbage, carrots, cucumber or green beans, try pickling them to make them last. You don’t have to learn canning, either — quick pickling works just as well.

3. Eat veggies without peeling

Not only will it save you a lot of work, it will cut down on food waste, increase your dish’s flavor and give you more nutrients. The veggies you can stop peeling include beets, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, ginger, parsnips, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Worried about dirt? Soak your veggies in water for a few minutes to get most of it off, then use a vegetable brush to finish the job.

4. Find ways to eat the parts of your food you’d normally toss

If there’s a part of some kind of food that you always toss, see if there’s a way you could make it edible. Here are some of our ideas:

5. Put your food scraps to work

Not all food scraps are destined for the bin. Try out some of these fun ideas to give your scraps a second life:

  • Make a broth out of carrot, celery and onion scraps.
  • Make an exfoliating coffee scrub out of used coffee grounds. Simply add a little oil of your choice (like coconut or jojoba) to freshly brewed grounds and exfoliate away! Use a drain catcher to keep the grounds from clogging up your plumbing.
  • Make potpourri from dried orange and other citrus peels.
  • Grow new plants out of food scraps.

And, of course, make sure to compost any food scraps that you can’t reuse!

Everything You Need to Know About CASP, Napa’s Brand New Composting Facility

machines moving compost

Napa’s composting facility just got a major upgrade.

In January 2020, the brand new composting system, called the CASP facility, officially began operations. It can compost over 63,000 tons of material per year. That breaks down to about 315 tons a day — the same weight as 5 empty Boeing 757s.

What Is CASP?

CASP stands for covered aerated static pile. We’ll go into details below, but in a nutshell, that means it’s designed to provide optimal composting conditions through positive aeration, automatic irrigation, advanced temperature control, and a biofilter layer.

Covered: The compost is covered with a biofilter layer made of mature compost or wood chips. It captures any air emissions and controls odors. The biofilter cover also insulates and retains heat evenly across the pile. Heat is important during composting in order to help the material break down, as well as to kill weed seeds and any pathogens.

Aerated: Aeration is the process of adding air into the compost. Through CASP, air goes into the compost through 3,300 holes installed in the concrete floor. The forced aeration helps the decomposition process.

Static Pile: The compost is put into an unmoving pile during its “active” phase, where all of the automated aeration, irrigation, and hourly temperature feedback take place and ensure the decomposition process happens quickly.

How Does It Work?

  1. Organic materials, including yard trimmings, food waste, ground wood, grape pomace and agricultural waste are blended and loaded into the system.
  2. The biofilter cover (mature compost or wood chips) is applied to control any odor or emissions.
  3. Air and water are automatically added to the compost to ensure ideal composting conditions.
  4. After 22 days in the actively controlled phase, compost is moved to another area where it can cure in the open for a minimum of 40 days.
  5. After 40 days of curing, the compost is done! The finished compost is screened for quality and sold for use as a soil amendment in agriculture (vineyards, farms and orchards), landscaping and home or community gardens.

Why the Upgrade?

California state mandates are gradually coming into effect that will increase how much food and yard waste needs to be composted. New mandates will also demand a better system for removing contaminants from the compost. Because of this, the City of Napa approved a $10.4 million upgrade at its composting facility back in 2017. Napa selected and implemented the new CASP system in less than three years.

In Napa’s old system of composting, all of the collected food scraps and yard waste went into windrows, where it was turned with front-end loaders until it finished decomposing.

The new CASP system gives operators greater control of the decomposition process, and it can process an additional 20,000 tons of material per year.

Read more about the new facility in BioCycle.

Go Green In Every Room: Plastic Free Pantry

pantry that has no plastic containers

The pantry can be a place where many single-use plastics live, including food packaging and plastic storage bags. However, there are a few easy ways to purchase the same great food while reducing waste. Consider the options below to help reduce plastic waste in the pantry.

Glass Storage Jars

Glass jars can be purchased or recycled from other food products, such as pickle jars for example. They are an ideal way to store food, as it’s easy to see what’s inside, they typically fit nicely next to one another on a shelf, and their lids generally seal better than plastic food containers. When buying groceries, it’s easy to put bulk items like beans or grains in a glass jar brought from home. Depending on the store, cashiers may ask to weigh your jar before you fill it or they may ask you to self weigh on store provided scales. This weight will then be subtracted from the total weight when it’s time to pay.

Be sure to call ahead to see if there are any COVID-19 related bulk container restrictions at your store.

Silicone Storage Bags

This lightweight option is a great way to store smaller items or leftovers, like crackers or chips. It’s easy to bring on the go, just toss it in a lunchbox or backpack when you’re headed out of the house.

Reuse Spice Jars

Once the original packaging of a spice is empty, it can be reused. Both glass and plastic spice containers are refillable, and often have a lid that can be unscrewed for easy refilling. Spices can be bought in bulk and are typically cheaper than their pre-packaged equivalents. When it’s time for more, simply bring the container to the store, have it weighed when empty, and refill it at the bulk bins.

Be sure to call ahead to see if there are any COVID-19 related bulk container restrictions at your store.

Beeswax Food Wraps

These handy cloths are made of fabric dipped in beeswax. They can be purchased from a local vendor or even made at home. They’re great for protecting baked goods like breads or muffins. The cloth is wrapped around the items, and then naturally clings to itself creating a seal around the food.

November 15: America Recycles Day

america recycles day logo

America Recycles Day is November 15th! To celebrate, people all across America are taking the day to organize, educate and make our recycling systems more functional! Keep America Beautiful, the organization who founded this celebration of recycling, says that November 15th is “a nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States.” They encourage the public to participate by utilizing toolkits provided through the America Recycles Day website and forming action groups with other community members.

Why Recycle?

So, why does recycling need a special day? The United States recycles less than 22% of materials discarded, though much of what’s wasted could technically be recycled. A big part of the problem is caused by public confusion on how to recycle. If we can sort out the confusion, many of these items could be turned into new goods and prevented from entering landfills. For example, recycling five plastic bottles produces enough fiber to fill one winter jacket. Here’s another surprising fact: every three months, enough aluminum cans are thrown into landfills in America to build the nation’s entire commercial airline fleet.

Get Involved

America Recycles Day is aimed at helping dissolve the confusion around recycling, offering many ways for the public to get involved, from attending an event, or organizing one to simply signing up to participate individually. Those who wish to take the recycling pledge can sign up on the website, and commit to a 3-step promise: learning more about their local recycling facility and how to recycle, taking action to reduce waste over the month beginning November 15th and sharing their new knowledge with others.

Ways To Take Action

  1. The first step to creating meaningful change in recycling is to educate yourself on what’s recyclable in your community. Our recycling guide includes disposal information for hundreds of commonly used items as well as alternative ways to recycle, ways to reduce, and ways to reuse.
  2. Once you’ve got a handle on how to recycle, go the extra mile and attend a recycling or cleanup event. Check out Keep America Beautiful’s upcoming events to get involved.
  3. Another way to support recycling is by spreading the word. To make this easy, Keep America Beautiful has provided templates for writing letters to the editor and getting proclamations from local government leaders.

Can Do Give Guide

En Español

Support Nonprofits!

December 1 – December 31
A year of challenges.
A year of resilience.
A year of inspiration.
You make a choice. You make a difference.
We make it easy.

PO Box 855 • Napa 94559

Apoyar las organizaciones
locales sin fines de lucro

Decembre 1 – Decembre 31
Un año de retos.
Un año de resistencia.
Un año de inspiración.
Haz una elección. Haz una diferencia.
Nosotros lo hacemos fácil.

PO Box 855 • Napa 94559

Scouting For Food / Thanksgiving Collection / Recycle Your Cooking Oil

Scouting For Food


Nov 14 • 9 am – 2 pm

Napa Drop-Off Location
Trancas Park and Ride Parking Lot
Intersection of Redwood/Solano

Donate your excess food supplies to those in dire need.


Thanksgiving Collection Schedule

Thurs 26
No Collection
Office Closed

Fri 27
Thursday Collection
Office Phones Open
until Noon

Sat 28
Friday Collection
Office Closed

Recycle Your Cooking Oil!

Call 255-5200 to receive a collection container.

Free Curbside Pickup
The RECYCLE MORE program picks up the used cooking oil by appointment and replaces the can with an empty. This program is for cooking oil only, please put solid fats & grease in the brown compost cart.

Free drop off of used cooking oil:
Devlin Road Reuse & Recycle Center
889B Devlin Road, American Canyon
Daily 8:30am–3:30pm; 707-258-9018

Compost Your Leaves, Pumpkins & Food Scraps!

Compost your leaves, pumpkins and food scraps

NCRWS customers are provided up to four compost carts at no charge. NRWS customers are provided up to two compost carts at no charge.

Additional carts are available for a small fee. Call 255-5200 for additional carts.

Did you know it is illegal to blow your leaves into the street? Leaves left in the street end up in storm drains and cause flooding. (Napa Municipal Code sections 12.16.020 and 8.36.050)

Get Your Annual Bulky Item Coupon!

One annual bulky item drop-off coupon is available to each NRWS/NCRWS customer.

For a hard copy of the coupon, please call our office at (707) 255-5200 or email cservice@naparecycling.com and we can mail you a coupon.

The Bulky Item Coupon is good for a free one-time load drop-off of old, broken, unusable bulky items at Napa Recycling & Composting Facility. A hard copy of the Bulky Item Coupon is necessary to receive this service.

Examples of items accepted with this coupon:

Examples of items NOT accepted with this coupon:

Drop-Off Site for Bulky Items


Year-Round Options for Bulky Items & E-Waste

Ask the Experts: What is Biodegradable Plastic?

dishwasher pods
recycle questions

Have a tough recycling question?
We’re here to help! Ask the Experts »

Q: What is biodegradable plastic?

A: Biodegradable plastic is a tricky topic! Why? Because it’s a blanket term applied to many different plastics. It’s made in different ways by different companies, but called the same name because it’s designed for a similar end: biodegrading.

Let’s start by defining the term biodegradable. When something is biodegradable, that means it can break down into organic materials. Regular plastic can’t do this — it can only break down into smaller pieces of plastic, which is a synthetic material.

How Biodegradable Plastic Is Made

In general, biodegradable plastics are made from petrochemical (oil-based) polymers that are put through a chemical process to turn them into plastic. In this way, they are just like any normal plastic.

However, some biodegradable plastics are made from plant-based plastics — bioplastics — or a combination of plant-based and synthetic plastics. Plant-based plastics are made by taking polymers that exist in nature and putting them through a similar chemical process to turn them into plastic.

How to Dispose of It

It’s important to know that biodegradable plastics are not recyclable. And just because they are capable of biodegrading doesn’t mean that they will. Some require very specific conditions or special microbes in order to biodegrade, and some require a very long time.

For instance, one of the more common types of biodegradable plastic has chemicals added to it that can help it break down in open air and sunlight, whether that’s out in a field or floating in the ocean. However, it isn’t designed to break down when buried underground (in a compost or landfill) or submerged in water. Without enough oxygen and sunlight, it may never biodegrade.

You wouldn’t really want this kind of plastic to break down in the environment anyway, though — or in a compost pile, or in your water supply. The chemicals that have been added to it can leave behind a toxic residue, and some types of “biodegradable” plastic won’t actually break down into organic molecules at all. Instead, they break down into smaller pieces of synthetic plastic, also known as microplastics.

If an item is certified as compostable, toss it in your compost cart. That means our facilities can break it down properly into organic material.

Otherwise, if it’s not certified compostable, it needs to go in the landfill cart.

Dishwasher & Laundry Detergent Pods

Dishwasher pods and laundry pods are the exceptions to this rule. These products are made from polyvinal alcohol, often referred to as PVA or PVOH. They are designed to dissolve in water and are fully biodegrade with the help of certain microbes present in wastewater treatment facilities.