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

  • Why We Still Need to Recycle Bottles and Cans

    Since 1986 California has kept 400 billion plastic, glass, aluminum, and bi-metal containers out of our landfills and off our streets by recycling them. Despite our recent loss in the number of conveniently located recycling centers because of dips in the global aluminum scrap market, California still recycled around 18.5 billion beverage containers in 2019.

    By continuing our commitment to recycling, we can keep these materials from adding to pollution and our already growing landfills.

    In 1986, California passed the Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act with these goals:

    • To reduce litter and landfilled trash
    • To use recyclable material for manufacturing, rather than mining the planet for new materials. 

    plastic bottles and cans flowing into a river

    California gave consumers a financial reason to recycle in 1986 to reduce litter and save materials discarded after one use.

    Do We Want a State Littered with Bottles?

    We drink most beverages away from home, so having a returnable deposit on the containers can motivate the purchasers to return used bottles and cans for their nickels or dimes. Not all consumers will go to the trouble to recycle, but the redemption program incentivizes others who find a bottle to return it for its monetary value.

    In 2018, Californians bought 24.5 billion redemption eligible bottles and cans and recycled about 18.5 billion of those.

    That’s 18.5 billion bottles and cans not dumped in our streets, waterways, and ocean to join the plastic from other sources polluting our planet, filling our seas, and killing our marine life. An often-cited study from the World Economic Forum estimates that by the year 2050, the world’s oceans will have more plastic than fish.   

    closeup picture of plastic bottles baled into cubes

    Plastic bottles: Designed to use for a few minutes. Built to last forever.

    Plastic Breaks Into Toxic Microplastic 

    Plastic containers might be designed to use for a few minutes, but they are built to last forever. Even if discarded in streets or landfills breaks down into smaller pieces, but it can only become toxic microplastics that poison our bodies and environment. It will never biodegrade into harmless organic matter like most glass does.  

    Do We Want Microplastics In Our Bodies?

    Unknowingly, we each ingest an average of 50,000 pieces of these microplastics each year in liquids, fish, and other foods. We breathe in about the same amount. We don’t yet know the effect these microplastics have, but they may cause immune reactions or have other health impacts

     

    recycling bottles

    Recycling Stretches Our Limited Resources

    Discarding bottles and cans instead of recycling them means we must constantly use new materials to manufacture the 24 billion new beverage containers we buy every year.  

    Recycling also brings: 

    The best thing you can do for California’s environment right now is to continue recycling. If you discover that a retailer obligated to redeem and listed on our database will not redeem your bottles and cans, please report them to CalRecycle’s help line: (800) RECYCLE.

    We follow up on every complaint. Let’s work together to keep recycling for our environment and our future. 

      

    Posted on In the Loop by Heather Jones on Jan 27, 2020

  • Still a Recycling Leader, California Recycles the Second-Highest Number of Bottles and Cans Ever

    kids recycling

    The U.S. EPA released new recycling statistics that illustrate that California remains a nationwide leader with a beverage container recycling rate year after year more than double the nation's average of 33%. Last year California recycled the second highest number of bottles and cans in the state's history.

    Despite the recent decline in aluminum scrap markets, Californians continued to show their commitment to recycling with: 

    • A 76 percent recycling rate, recycling 18.5 billion beverage containers in 2018. 
    • A slight increase in the recycling rate from a 75 percent beverage container recycling rate in 2017.
    • A continued high recycling rate in 2019, which is on track to recycle over 18 billion more CRV containers this year.

    The average beverage container recycling rate for all US states in 2017 was 33.1 percent.

    California’s 2017 beverage container recycling rate for all material types was 75 percent that year.  California recycles more bottles and cans than any other state.

    California is one of ten states with a beverage container deposit law (known as a Bottle Bill) to encourage beverage container recycling. The California Beverage Container Recycling and Littler Reduction Act was passed in 1986 to incentivize the recycling of plastic, glass, and aluminum bottles and cans. California recycles by far the largest number of beverage containers each year. We rank fourth in the nation in the percentage of beverage containers recycled, despite our unique challenges as the state with the highest population and the largest geographic area among the top ten states for beverage container recycling. We serve almost 40 million people with great geographic, cultural, and economic diversity.  

     

    State Population Recycling Rate (Beverage Containers) Recycling Volume
    (Beverage Containers)
    California 39.8 million 76% (2018) 18,588,304,236
    Connecticut 3.5 million 50% (2018) 725,034,130
    Hawaii 1.4 million 65% (2017) Not Publicly Listed
    Iowa 3.1 million 71% (2017) Not Publicly Listed
    Maine 1.3 million 84% (2017) Not Publicly Listed
    Massachusetts 6.9 million 57% (2017) Not Publicly Listed
    Michigan 9.9 million 91% (2017) Not Publicly Listed
    New York 19.5 million 66% (2016) 5,100,000,000
    Oregon 4.1 million 81% (2018) Not Publicly Listed
    Vermont 626,299 75% (2017) Not Publicly Listed
     

    Our department is working hard to ensure consumers have access to convenient recycling options and places to redeem their bottles and cans following the closing of rePlanet Recycling Centers, the largest recycling company in the state.

    CalRecycle has expedited certification for 66 new recycling centers. 

    California is on track to recycle more than 18 billion bottles and cans in 2019.

    More than 50 recycling centers have opened since August 2019.

    We will continue to work on multiple fronts to help more centers open in unserved areas, and to hold retailers accountable for their obligation to redeem CRV in areas not served by recycling centers.

    Learn more about California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program at calrecycle.ca.gov/BevContainer. In addition to finding recycling statistics, and detailed information on the California Beverage Container Recycling Fund, local funding opportunities for innovative new models of CRV redemption, you can also find the nearest CRV redemption opportunity in your area.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Dec 10, 2019

  • What Is Recyclable?

    Wait, aren’t all products with the recycling chasing arrows symbol recyclable? Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. First, there is currently no universal definition for recyclable. Second, individual materials in a product may be recyclable, but they may be fused together in such a way that it’s difficult to separate them into individual recyclable materials. Plastic-coated coffee cups, electronics, and padded envelopes are good examples of this. Third, even though a product may technically be recyclable, there must be a market for that material. In other words, a product’s recyclability has as much to do with the economy as the technology of recycling. Let’s break down the recycling economy for insight. 

    Collection

    The first step in the recycling process is to collect the material. Californians can sort their recyclables into a curbside recycling bin, or they may opt to take some materials to a recycling center. Dirty or broken material may not be eligible to be processed into feedstock, so be sure to add only clean items to your recycling bin. And check with your local hauler to see what materials they are collecting to recycle before putting items in your curbside recycling bin. 

    Sorting and Processing into Feedstock for Manufacturers

    Next, a recycling center sells the material to a recycling processor who transforms the material into feedstock for a new product. In the case of plastic water bottles, the plastic is shredded into plastic flakes. 

    California has historically relied on a “collect, sort, export” model of recycling. Fluctuations in the global commodities market often impact California’s ability to export these materials for recycling. Despite these fluctuations, California exported more recyclables last year than in previous years. Even so, it’s pretty clear that California must continue investing in a robust domestic recycling infrastructure so we are not so reliant on foreign markets to process recyclables and remanufacture products.

    Recycling Feedstock into New Products

    Recycling processors then sell feedstock to manufacturers who use the material to manufacture new products. These products are called “recycled-content products.” It is difficult for recycled feedstock to compete in the marketplace if the price of virgin materials is cheaper. Although low oil prices mean low gas prices, they also mean it’s cheaper to make a plastic bottle from virgin materials than recycled plastic water bottle flakes. 

    CalRecycle is about to start developing regulations for SB 1335 (Allen, Chapter 610, Statutes of 2018), which requires food service facilities located in state-owned buildings to use reusable, recyclable, or compostable food service packaging. Laws like SB 1335 will not only help define what is actually recyclable, but will also create a market demand for reusable, recyclable, and compostable products.

    Marketing and Selling Recycled Content Products

    In the final step of the recycling economy, manufacturers sell recycled-content products to distributors and retailers who then sell these products to the public. One of the ways CalRecycle helps this effort is by overseeing the state’s Buy-Recycled Campaign, which requires all state agencies to purchased recycled-content products. In addition to creating a market demand for recycled-content products, the program also creates new jobs; reduces waste, pollution, and energy consumption; and diverts waste from landfills.

    Ways to Support the Recycling Economy

    • All Californians can support the recycling economy in a few simple ways. 
    • Consider ways to reduce the amount of trash you throw away every week. Can you make changes in how you shop or consume goods that would reduce your personal waste? That may look like using a reusable coffee cup or opting for products with less packaging.
    • Check with your waste hauler to learn about what recyclable materials are allowed in your recycling bin.  Haulers will let you know what they are collecting that can be sold to recycling processors.
    • Add clean recyclables to your curbside bin to reduce contamination. Rinsing out spaghetti sauce and peanut butter jars before adding them to the recycling bin can go a long way in reducing contamination.
    • Buy recycled-content products. Look for products that use recycled-content in them. CalRecycle’s website has a search tool to look for recycled-content manufacturers. 


     
    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Oct 10, 2019