By Lemor Abrams

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Californians may be leaders in recycling.

“I have a huge garden in my backyard, I recycle the plants,” said one recycler in Sacramento.

But California’s recycling industry has a problem: China no longer wants our waste. It says it’s too contaminated with food and other junk that can’t be recycled.

“What the Chinese are saying is if you have a half a percent of food or adhesive in there, we can’t accept it,” said Mark Murray.

Murray is with “Californians Against Waste.” He sat with us on a flatbed truck parked in front of the state Capitol. It’s his way of showing legislators how serious of a crisis we’re in.

“Six million tons of material there is no market for,” said Louie Pellegrini, President of Livermore Sanitation.

Instead of making money selling recycled materials to China, waste processors say they’re in a deficit.

“We’re getting a couple dollars a ton and we used to get $75, $80 a ton for this,” said Eric Potashner of Recology Waste Zero.

Industry leaders are asking lawmakers to help them find a place to put all that junk.

What do you do when you have a stacked up problem like this?

Assemblyman Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) serves on the Natural Resources committee. She has some long-term solutions, including giving companies a reason to take our garage.

“Could be a power company, could be manufacturing. I think we could make jobs out of this,” she said.

For now, Murray says, get to know your trash.

“If it is paper and just paper, no plastic, no adhesives, no food contamination then go ahead and put it the recycling bin,” he said.

For more information, every city and county has a full list of what’s recyclable and what’s not.

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