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

  • CalRecycle Funds Six New School Food Pantries to Feed Children in Need

    Since 2013, San Diego’s White Pony Express Food Bank has supplied 9 million pounds of food to Californians who don’t get enough to eat. During the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order they have more than doubled how much food they give out to the cars lining up for donations. This non-profit will add at least six new school pantries that feed children with grant funding from CalRecycle.

    The Department supports food bank programs that lower the food waste sent to landfills by sending edible, unused food to the one in eight Californians who don’t know where they will get their next meal. Organic waste makes up two-thirds of the trash that fills our landfills. It also releases methane, a greenhouse gas 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it breaks down in landfills. By lowering food waste, we can provide food for those going hungry, while fighting a primary super pollutant that contributes to the devastating effects of climate change like wildfires and droughts.

     

     

     

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong and Maria West on May 19, 2020

  • Environmental Justice: Inclusive Decision-Making

    On the drive from Sacramento to Lamont through the San Joaquin Valley on Highway 99, we passed rows upon rows of produce and concrete jungles amid the visible air pollution haze. Last month I traveled with Team Environmental Justice member Julia Dolloff and Maria Salinas, CalRecycle’s Environmental Justice Manager to Lamont, a community just outside of Bakersfield. We were there to present to community members about CalRecycle’s Environmental Justice Program, SB 1383 regulations and the estimated 50 to 100 new large-scale organic waste facilities that will be built in the state as a result, and how to participate in the formal rulemaking process. Visiting an underrepresented community always accentuates the importance of our work to protect all Californians from environmental harm.

    This underlying principle is why the SB 1383 regulations have incorporated community input. For example, the draft regulations allow for the use of community composting operations in jurisdictions to help manage organic waste. In addition, when jurisdictions plan for their organic waste capacity, they must conduct community outreach for new or expanded facilities, seek feedback on benefits and impacts, and consult with community composting operations.

    In light of the impact implementing SB 1383  (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016) will have on the state, staff recently created the Environmental Justice Compost Facilities Map, which overlays existing organics recycling facilities with CalEnviroScreen 3.0, a tool that identifies communities disproportionately burdened by multiple sources of pollution. Identifying facility locations increases transparency and empowers communities to participate in the decision-making process with full knowledge of facility permits, inspections, and enforcement actions.

    Lamont community meeting with CalRecycle staff, Kern County employees, and community members, and Enviroscreen map

    Left: CalRecycle staff members, Kern County employees, and Lamont community members met to discuss environmental justice issues. Right: On CalEnviroScreen 3.0, Lamont is in the top third most burdened percentile and surrounded on all sides by the 90th percentile. Three facilities are located in the nearby vicinity. 

    The Lamont community meeting incorporated environmental justice community engagement best practices by holding the event in their community in the evening after typical work hours and providing interpretation services. Not everyone spoke English but with interpretive services, we were able to discuss their personal experiences with pollution, food waste, and waste collection services. For example, one community member noted that many Lamont residents speak different Spanish dialects, which makes it difficult for residents to understand even Spanish translated materials, but that graphic bin labels can transcend the language barrier.

    At the meeting, Gustavo Aguirre talked about his efforts to create a community benefits agreement with the nearby Recology composting facility. The agreement commits Recology to create an odor minimization plan, implement air pollution mitigation measures, and invest yearly in community benefiting projects. At our meeting, multiple people chimed in that this approach was successful for both Recology and their community.  

    Staff from Kern County’s local enforcement agency and other county government officials also attended the meeting. This allowed for a dialogue between the local officials and community members. One exciting moment was when a Kern County employee talked about the Waste Hunger Not Food pilot project. The pilot project implements the food rescue element of SB 1383 regulations by distributing edible, surplus food from restaurants, schools, and markets.

    This community meeting demonstrated the importance of information sharing and solution-building with all involved parties. The conversation was richer because there were representatives from the state, the county, and the community. Getting people historically and systematically disadvantaged in the room and at the table is what environmental justice seeks to accomplish.

    ---Ciaran Gallagher, CalRecycle Capital Fellow

    Posted on In the Loop by Ciaran Gallagher, CalRecycle Capital Fellow on May 6, 2019

  • Grant Supports Organics Recycling, Food Rescue

    $4 Million to Help Fund Anaerobic Digestion Facility, Purchase Refrigerated Delivery Truck 

    A new anaerobic digestion facility in San Luis Obispo County, partially funded through CalRecycle’s Organics Grant Program, will process 35,720 tons of organic material per year that would otherwise be landfilled.

    Kompogas SLO will convert organic yard and food waste into renewable energy and feedstock for local composting facilities.

    SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016) requires the state to divert 50 percent of organic material from landfills by 2020 and 75 percent by 2025 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by organic material decomposing in landfills. In response to the new law, SLO Integrated Waste Management Authority coordinated with its local hauler, Waste Connections, to identify and forecast opportunities for organic waste diversion. Kompogas SLO will reduce greenhouse gas emissions not only by diverting organic materials from disposal but also by reducing vehicle miles involved with transporting organic waste.

    Construction on the new facility began in November 2017, and it is expected to be up and running in late spring 2019.

    Despite current organics collection efforts, a significant amount of organic waste still ends up in landfills because local organics recycling infrastructure is maxed out and it’s costly to transport the material out of the region. At full capacity, Kompogas SLO will digest 35,720 tons per year of organics that would otherwise be disposed at the Cold Canyon Landfill. The total GHG reductions over 10 years is equivalent to removing more than 1,600 cars from the road every year.

    Kompogas SLO and Valley Food Bank collaborated to apply for the CalRecycle grant and received a combined $4 million. The food bank will use $119,000 to purchase a new refrigerated truck to rescue edible food from the waste stream and redirect it to Californians in need. The rest will go toward the cost of the $7.77 million anaerobic digestion facility.

    Last year, Valley Food Bank provided $9.1 million worth of food to families living at or below the poverty line in the San Fernando Valley. With the new truck, the food bank will be able to respond to last-minute notifications to pick up meat and produce and expand its operations by 500 tons of fresh food per year.

    The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Organics 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, and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities. The Cap-and-Trade Program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution. California Climate Investment projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, and recycling. At least 35 percent of these investments are made in disadvantaged and low-income communities. For more information, visit California Climate Investments.

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Feb 21, 2019