Jessica Felix / City of Bakersfield Solid Waste Division

Recycling the right materials isn’t just a local issue—it’s international. China has historically been one of the U.S.’s top buyers of recyclables, but for over a year, it’s been putting restrictions on which materials it will import.

Those changes led cities and recyclers to scramble to find markets for their recyclables. Some have launched outreach campaigns to change recycling habits, some are raising rates for waste management, and others are simply stockpiling their recyclables until they can find buyers.

Fresno Department of Public Utilities Instagram

Do you know what can and can’t be recycled? Which bin do you use for your Starbucks cups, your wrapping paper or your greasy pizza box? We wondered, where does everyone go to find these answers? So we sat down with the expert behind Fresno’s Public Utilities Instagram, Xitlaly Ocampo. Ocampo takes questions through the account about what can and can't be recycled, and reminds the public about things like where to recycle batteries, or whether a Christmas tree goes in the green bin.


Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio


On the campus of the Bakersfield ARC, employees can work in a number of places, but one of the noisiest is the material recovery facility. It’s where about half of the city’s recycling is sorted by material.

“On a daily average, we do anywhere from 28 to 35 tons a day,” says Andres Lopez, the Recycling Division Manager at Bakersfield ARC. “So we're doing a good chunk of the city's material.”

On this week’s Valley Edition: Valley Public Radio gets trashy. Do you ever think about what happens to all of your garbage and recyclables? Well, some California cities are getting creative. And what about all of that ridiculous stuff piling up in your garage? There’s a company that wants it.  

We also explore a recycling program in Bakersfield with some novel - and controversial - labor practices.

Plus: Why is so much medical equipment thrown out before it’s expired? A Clovis organization is repurposing supplies from this enormous industry.