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

  • 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

  • The Easiest Ways to Save the Planet from Home

    Using Less Means More Trees, More Money, and Less Toxic Microplastic.

    hands holding earth


    As we pause our constant busy pace in order to save lives, we see what a difference we can make when we all work together. Because we have disrupted many of our routines and habits, we may find it easier to change some habits permanently to help the planet still be livable by the end of this century and beyond. Using less helps the planet more.

    Los Angeles skyline with San Gabriel mountains behind, before picture shows smog obscuring mountains, while after picture shows mountains crystal clear.

    Smog around the Los Angeles skyline used to obscure the San Gabriel Mountains.

     

    Reducing Helps the Environment Even More than Recycling Does

    You may already help by recycling right—rinsing out and drying a container before throwing it in the blue bin. But “recycle” comes third in our “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra because reducing and reusing help the environment even more.

    drop of water on leaf shows reflection of entire earth

     

    Why Using Less Helps the Planet More

    Reducing has the biggest impact because you lessen the demand for more resources and use less energy manufacturing and transporting products. 

    Reducing:

    • Saves money
    • Saves energy
    • Prevents pollution from harvesting and transporting raw materials
    • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change
    • Helps the planet stay livable for our children and future grandchildren
    • Lowers how much we have to recycle or send to landfills and incinerators

      While recycling helps reduce trash, of the 8.4 percent of plastic that gets recycled in the US, most is only recycled one time because the quality degrades each time it is recycled. Then it joins the rest of the plastic polluting our planet as toxic microplastics in our air, water, and earth.

    Reducing Means More Trees to Clean Greenhouse Gases Out of the Air

     

    Pine tree grove

    Americans use 110 million trees just for paper towels every year.

    When we reduce our use of single-use paper products, we cut down fewer trees—trees that fight global warming by turning carbon in the air into oxygen.

    When we reduce our use of petroleum-based plastic water bottles, we won’t have as much plastic in our oceans and landfills that breaks down into toxic microplastics that will stay in our water and air for centuries.

    It’s Easy to Use Less Right Now

    Here are some easy ways to reduce that can save you hundreds of dollars a year, as well.

    empty shelves in a grocery store

    A shortage of single use paper products in stores is driving us to reusable options.

    It’s hard to find some paper products in stores right now, so it’s a perfect time to explore other options that will save you money and waste fewer resources in the long run.

    Save 80 Rolls of Paper Towels a Year

    Paper towels

    woman using real towels to clean

    Replace paper towels with kitchen towels, old towels, or rags you can wash and reuse.

    Americans throw away 3,000 tons of paper towels a year that come from 110 million trees. That breaks down to 80 rolls of paper towels a year per person. Think of the trees and the money you’ll save!

    Paper napkins

    Order dark, wrinkle- resistant cloth napkins that won’t show stains to use several times between washes.  

    About 243 million Americans use between one and six packages of paper napkins a month.

    Plastic water bottles

    person filling reusable water bottle at sink

    Buy a reusable bottle and water filter and drink cleaner water for less money with zero waste!

    Americans purchase about 50 billion water bottles every year. That’s around 13 bottles per month for every person. By using a reusable water bottle, you can save an average of 156 plastic bottles annually, or more if you drink one or more bottles a day. Most bottled water is just tap water that leaches plastic into the water.

    Food waste

    The average family of four spends $1,500 on uneaten food each year

    Freeze food like bread and berries to use as you need them.

    Two-thirds of the trash we send to landfills is organic. Right now most of us don’t want to shop at groceries more often than necessary. The further we can make our food go, the fewer times we need to go out to the store or put in an order that can take up to a week for a local store to deliver. Do more with less. Get more food tips in our article “How to Stretch Your Food While Quarantined.”

    How are you reducing waste while you’re at home? Let us know and we’ll share on social media!

    Posted on In the Loop by Heather Jones and Maria West on Apr 20, 2020