Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.

  • Plastic Recycling Gets a Legal Boost: World’s Highest Standard for Recycled Content Could Drive Up Demand

    California just took an historic step to combat plastic pollution and accelerate the state’s transition away from fossil fuels to a cleaner, green economy. Under a first-in-the-nation law, the state will require new water, soda, and other beverage bottles to contain 50 percent recycled plastic by 2030. 

    The bold new requirements in AB 793 (Ting, Chapter 115, Statutes of 2020) make California’s minimum recycled plastic content standards the strongest in the world, advancing the state’s mission to: 

    • Create strong domestic markets for recycled materials. This will increase the demand for recyclable plastic from manufacturers, giving it more value and lowering how much of it ends up polluting the state and filling landfills. 

    • Reduce dependence on new plastic. Since plastic is made from oil and never biodegrades (it only breaks into toxic microplastics), the law will help California fast-track climate progress and create less toxicity in the air and water. 

    “California has long led the way on bold solutions in the climate space, and the steps we take today bring us closer to our ambitious goals,” said Governor Newsom when he signed the legislation. “I thank the Legislature for taking these important steps to protect the planet and public health.” 

    Beverage Container Recycling Boost 

    The minimum recycled content standards for plastic beverage containers subject to California Refund Value (CRV) could also help improve profits for beverage container recycling centers by greatly increasing demand for recyclable plastic.  

    “Higher scrap values for recycled plastic due to increased demand for the material will help California recyclers impacted by changes in global prices for recyclable materials,” said Ken DaRosa, acting director for California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). 

    In 2018, China implemented “National Sword,” a combination of policies aimed at limiting contamination in recyclable materials by restricting imports of those materials. The resulting declines in global scrap market values, coupled with domestic beverage container market shifts toward low-value plastic and away from higher-value aluminum, have challenged the business model of traditional recycling centers. 

     

    Plastic Pollution Solution

    Manufacturers often find it cheaper to use new plastic compared to recycled plastic because of lower oil prices in recent years. This has been exacerbated further by reduced demand for oil during to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

    In 2019, California sold beverages in 12.6 billion plastic CRV containers. An average of 15 percent minimum recycled content was used to make those bottles, according to data reported to CalRecycle by beverage manufacturers. Increasing the amount of recycled plastic used in the manufacturing of beverage containers will help increase demand for recycling and make California more self-sufficient and its economy more circular, while reducing the state’s reliance on fossil fuel-based manufacturing sources. 

    “Limiting California’s dependency on new plastic will conserve resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that come from mining and refining new raw materials,” added DaRosa.  

    California’s New Standards   

    The new law establishes standards for recycled content in California Redemption Value (CRV) plastic beverage containers sold in California. Manufacturers will be required to use at least: 

    • 15 percent recycled plastic in new containers by 2022. 

    • 25 percent recycled plastic in new containers by 2025. 

    • 50 percent recycled plastic in new containers by 2030. 

    AB 793 grants CalRecycle the ability to review and possibly reduce the minimum content standards to ensure they are achievable. Beverage manufacturers have the right to petition the director once per year to review and adjust the requirements.  

    The law gives CalRecycle the authority to conduct audits and investigations to ensure the standards are met. Beverage manufacturers that fail to achieve the requirements are subject to a 20-cent penalty for each pound short of the mandated targets. 

    All penalties go directly into a new Recycling Enhancement Penalty Account to support the recycling, infrastructure, collection, and processing of plastic beverage containers in California. For more information on implementation of AB 793, please sign up for the Beverage Container Recycling listserv here: https://www2.calrecycle.ca.gov/Listservs/Subscribe/132 

    Posted on In the Loop by Linda Mumma on Oct 20, 2020

  • How Recycled Tires Can Save California Roads at Risk of Landslide

    Santa Barbara’s Ortega Ridge Road is no longer in danger of washing away thanks to 80,000 recycled waste tires. Like many paved pathways that curve and bend along with California’s rugged terrain, the ground beneath the road absorbed water in the rainy season - undermining its stability and causing the asphalt to crack, sink, and slide down the hillside. At one point, the road was reduced to just one safe lane.

    Now, thanks to an innovative new road repair technique, Ortega Ridge Road is stable, safe, and a model for what’s possible in areas prone to landslides.

     

     

    A First for California

    With grant assistance and technical guidance from the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), Santa Barbara County rebuilt Ortega Ridge Road in 2019 using more than 80,000 recycled tires that were shredded and processed into Tire-Derived Aggregate (TDA). The highly permeable fill material allows water to drain through it (unlike conventional soil)– avoiding excess weight that often causes these types of roadways to wash away.

    The Ortega Ridge Road repair was the first infrastructure project in California to use TDA material in this type of civil engineering application.

    CalRecycle Funding Stopped the Cycle of Failure

    Santa Barbara County spent decades on this problem. “We were looking for a solution for this continually failing road,” says Chris Doolittle, an engineer geologist with Santa Barbara County. “It had been failing for 20 years at a minimum.” Over and over again, crews tried the more traditional repair technique of laying down new asphalt – one layer after another - only to watch the road degrade again.

    Picture of mountain landslide

    “We had a good relationship with CalRecycle and determined this site would be a really good candidate for a pilot project,” Doolittle recalls.

    In March of 2018, CalRecycle awarded Santa Barbara County $158,241 in funding from its Tire-Derived Aggregate Grant Program to purchase the recycled tire fill material. Armed with research from the University of California San Diego, which provided engineering data for the project design, CalRecycle worked alongside the county and engineering contractor GHD Services to design and construct a more eco-friendly and long-lasting repair on a 225-foot section of Ortega Ridge Road.

    Tire-derived aggregate, made from 810 tons of California waste tires, was used to backfill a retaining wall composed of large, rock-filled welded wire baskets (called gabions) to replace failed soil and provide lateral support to the reconstructed embankment. The repair resulted in a more permanent repair, saved the county permitting time, money for easements, construction costs and expensive road materials.

    Road workers using T D A to fix landslide

    “CalRecycle provided expert support,” notes CalRecycle senior waste management engineer William Heung. “As a result, public works was able to open a safe, stable roadway to the public more quickly and inexpensively than traditional methods, with the environmental benefit of reducing the number of used tires buried in landfills.”

    There’s an Award for That!

    The Ortega Ridge Road repair earned the 2020 Outstanding Local Streets and Road Repair Project award from the County Engineers Association of California (CEAC).

    Aerial view of TDA roadwork project

    “What we want is to see something that is out-of-the-box thinking and innovative,” explained CEAC President Rick Tippett, also the director of transportation for Trinity County. “What this award is intended to do is share success, so other agencies will take those ideas back to their communities.”

    Project leaders are hopeful a recognition like this will encourage other local cities and counties to consider the use of TDA and this groundbreaking engineering technique to improve local infrastructure and protect public safety. “We would like to see more of this type of project around the state,” says Heung. “It is a superior alternative material to other products out there and a great use for California’s scrap tires.”

    Longer Lasting Roads with Little Environmental Impact

    Using t d a on roadwork project

    Tire-Derived Aggregate is a smart, cost-effective way to repurpose some of the 51 million waste tires that Californians generate every year. Beneficial uses for this material include:

    • Lightweight, permeable backfill that’s lighter than gravel and more permeable than soil
    • A low-cost option to reduce train noise. When placed under tracks, TDA reduces the vibration and noise that is often a nuisance to those living nearby.
    • Retaining wall backfill, particularly in areas prone to landslides. Because of TDA’s lightweight properties, retaining walls can be designed using less reinforcing steel.
    • Landfill gas collection trenches. The high porosity of TDA makes it an excellent material for filling landfill gas collection trenches that transport methane, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon dioxide.

    CalRecycle’s Tire-Derived Aggregate Grant Program supports projects that use recycled waste tires in place of conventional construction materials for civil engineering applications such as retaining wall backfill, landslide stabilization, vibration mitigation, and various landfill uses. The unique engineering properties of shredded waste tires allow for free-draining, lightweight, and typically less expensive solutions for these types of projects.

    • Since 2011, CalRecycle has awarded $5,582,126 in TDA grants to 28 projects statewide.  
    • Grants are funded through a portion of the $1.75 fee consumers pay on each new tire purchased in California.
    • For more information about CalRecycle’s waste tire management grants, including application criteria and maximum award amounts, see our Tire Recycling, Cleanup, and Enforcement Grants webpage.
    • Get direct notifications about funding availability, applicant and project eligibility, and application due dates by joining CalRecycle’s Tire-Derived Aggregate listserv.
    Posted on In the Loop by Chris McSwain on Jul 20, 2020

  • California Hunger Doubles During COVID-19 As a New Climate Law Directs Surplus Food to Families

    Lines of cars snaked around The Forum arena and all the way around the block in Los Angeles, California, Friday, April 10, to pick up groceries being handed out by a food bank. By Voice of America/KABC

    Lines of cars snaked around The Forum arena and all the way around the block in Los Angeles, California, Friday, April 10, to pick up groceries being handed out by a food bank. By Voice of America/KABC

    Hunger in California has doubled, and in some counties has tripled, since the state’s Stay-At-Home order went into effect, according to the California Association of Food Banks. A little-known climate law will soon direct supermarkets, food wholesalers, and other food businesses to send millions of meals to local food rescue organizations instead of dumping surplus food in landfills.

    The law’s new requirements come at a crisis moment for the state. “We’ve seen up to three times as many people showing up at our food banks since the coronavirus pandemic first began and overall hunger in the state has gone up 113 percent,” said Communications Director of the Association of Food Banks Lauren Lathan Reid. 
     
    Demand for Donated Food Has Recently Skyrocketed
     
    In communities across the state, the overwhelming demand translates to miles-long lines of cars of cars filled with thousands of people waiting to enter food banks or make their way through pop up, drive-through food distribution lines.
     
    Lathan Reid said the hardest-hit counties include Marin, Mono, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Sonoma, where food insecurity has tripled since the start of the pandemic. Hunger in Alameda, Los Angeles, and Santa Clara has increased more than 150 percent. 
     
    Cities and counties can help meet this historic surge in demand by proactively implementing local programs to meet the new statewide requirements, which include:
    • Requiring supermarkets, grocery stores, food service providers, food distributors, and food wholesaler vendors to donate their otherwise wasted food to neighbors in need starting January 1, 2022. 
    • Requiring restaurants of a certain size, hotels, health facilities, large venues and events, state agencies with cafeterias, and K-12 schools to donate otherwise wasted food to neighbors in need starting January 1, 2024.
     
    Food bank demand has skyrocketed in California. By Food Forward
    Food bank demand has skyrocketed as twice as many Californians go hungry. By Food Forward 
     
    Lowering Climate Pollutants by Feeding Californians in Need
     
    As the public demand for government to take on climate change grew, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016), a law designed to lower climate super pollutants. The legislation aimed to curtail landfill methane emissions by reducing the amount of food, yard waste, and other organic waste landfilled in California each year. A component of the landmark legislation will redirect good food that is currently being thrown away to Californians who do not have enough to eat. 
     
    “Before COVID-19, one out of every eight Californians and one out of every five children didn’t have enough food to eat,” said Martine Boswell, a CalRecycle environmental scientist who advises communities and businesses on food waste prevention, edible food recovery, and overall food waste management. “That number has now gone up. At the same time that people are going hungry, hundreds of thousands of tons of edible food is annually thrown into the trash and ending up in landfills.”
     
    Methane from landfilled food is one of the top climate super pollutants in the state.  By Food Forward
    Methane from landfilled food is one of the top climate super pollutants in the state.  By Food Forward
     
    Organics Make Up Two-Thirds of Trash Dumped in Landfills
     
    In California, organic waste makes up about two-thirds of what we landfill each year. As these materials decompose without enough oxygen, they create methane, a heat-trapping gas more than 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and a major contributor to ground-level ozone and global climate change. 
     
    To reduce landfill methane emissions, SB 1383 requires a 75 percent reduction in organic waste disposal by 2025, as well as actions to ensure 20 percent of currently disposed edible food is redirected to Californians in need. 
     
    The term “edible food” means food intended for human consumption, but it must also meet the food safety requirements of the California Retail Code. 
     
    “This is one-of-a-kind legislation,” said CalRecycle Environmental Program Manager Kyle Pogue. “No other state or country has required this level of food rescue.” 
     
    California Needs Additional Space and Transportation to Rescue More Food
     
    Meeting the edible food rescue requirement of SB 1383 will require California to increase capacity with the state's food recovery network of food banks, pantries, soup kitchens and other food rescue organizations. Funding helps these groups save more food by growing their capacity to collect, transport, store, and distribute more meals to those in need.
     
    By Food Forward
    By Food Forward 
     
    60 Food Recovery Grants Will Bring Millions More Meals to Californians Statewide 
     
    In the last couple of years, CalRecycle has awarded money to more than 60 food recovery projects all over the state through a series of grants. 
     
    “Supporting food rescue programs in California helps provide jobs and nourish communities by giving them the food they need to survive and thrive,” said Boswell. 
     
    CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work:
    • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
    • Strengthening the economy
    • Improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities. 
     
    The program helps organizations establish or expand food rescue and food waste prevention projects to reduce the amount of food being disposed in landfills.
     
    Click here to learn more about CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program recipients from across the state, including Food Forward, an innovative Southern California non-profit food rescue group that helps serve an additional 5 million meals a year thanks to their CalRecycle grant project.
     
     
    Posted on In the Loop by Linda Mumma on Jul 7, 2020