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

  • Eco Holiday Habits to Get on Santa's Nice List

    During the holidays many of us gather to share special meals, exchange gifts, and enjoy ourselves. As you prepare to host gatherings for your loved ones, consider how your celebrations create waste that contributes to climate change and adds to the growing amount of plastic in landfills. Are you being naughty or nice to the planet?

    Here are three ways to get on the planet’s Nice List this holiday season

    Naughty food waste; nice compost

    Naughty: Throwing Food in the Trash
    Nice: Lowering Food Waste with Meal Plans and Composting

    Meal Plan for Zero Food Waste

    Many of us consider lavish spreads of favorite holiday dishes the hallmark of a caring host. But excess food gives off high amounts of the potent greenhouse gas methane once it’s dumped in a landfill. This is a major cause of climate change.

    Rethink your hosting ideals, brand your gathering eco-friendly, then don’t overbuy or overcook.

    Use the food GUEST-IMATOR tool to plan how much to prepare. If there are leftovers you know you won’t finish, send food home with your guests in reusable containers.

    Clean your plate or compost the rest.

    Try composting your food waste. If your curbside organics collection doesn’t accept food, ask local community gardens if you can contribute to their compost bin.

    Consider setting up your own home compost. It can help grow healthier, heartier plants. Winter is the ideal time to start compost that will be ready to add to your garden in the spring.

    Easy tips for starting to compost

    naughty: single use disposable plastic. Nice: reusable dishes.

    Naughty: Single-Use Plastic
    Nice: Reusable Dishes and Utensils

    “Disposable” Plastic Lasts Forever

    Many hosts choose the ease of disposable plates, cutlery, and cups for holiday gatherings. But that plastic your guests use for just a few minutes will never biodegrade. It stays on the planet, slowly breaking down into toxic microplastics.

    About 10 percent of all trash is plastic. Forty million Californians create more than 3.2 million tons of plastic waste every year.

    Reusable plates and cutlery give the gift of a cleaner planet. Less trash in landfills is worth a few extra minutes of cleanup.

    Naughty: dirty recyclables; nice: clean recyclables

    Naughty: Dirty Recyclables
    Nice: Clean Recyclables 

    Rinse Containers Before Recycling

    Recyclables tainted with food or water can leak onto surrounding paper and cardboard, and create a contaminated, unrecyclable mess. In 2018 China stopped accepting certain US mixed recyclable shipments because many arrived full of mold and had to be thrown away in landfills.

    Clean your containers to keep recycling from becoming garbage. 

    Not sure about that greasy pizza box? Tear off the oily parts and toss those in the trash. The remaining clean cardboard can go in your blue bin.

    Check out this quick video on recycling contamination.

    With a few small changes, you can make a difference for the planet even as you enjoy this festive season. Get more eco-friendly holiday hints to use this year.

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Dec 23, 2019

  • New Law Bans Hotels from Providing Personal Care Products in Small Plastic Bottles

    We’ve all seen and sometimes used them: those tiny plastic bottles of personal care products that hotels provide to guests. Although many of us have forsaken the novelty of these tiny bottles by bringing along our favorite care products when we travel, they have persisted on hotel bathroom sinks throughout the world. Thanks to a recently signed law, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals in California will be prohibited from providing these to their guests starting in 2023.

    California has a big problem with plastic and packaging. Packaging alone accounts for about 25 percent of the trash we generate throughout the state. And it’s hard to forget the garbage patches in our oceans. In 2011, California set a goal to recycle 75 percent of our waste, which requires that we look at ways to make recycling more convenient for consumers and ways to reduce the amount of plastic and packaging that is available in the marketplace by replacing them with reusable or eco-friendly options. 

    In support of this large waste reduction goal, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 1162 (Kalra, Chapter 687, Statutes of 2019) into law, which prohibits hotels and other lodging establishments from providing personal care products like shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion in small plastic bottles. The law defines “small bottles” as those containing less than 6 ounces of liquid that are not intended to be reusable. 

    AB 1162, like many waste management and recycling laws, establishes a phased-in approach. The law requires large establishments with more than 50 rooms to remove these products in 2023. The following year, smaller establishments with fewer rooms will have to follow suit. 

    Laws like this may seem trivial, but they make a significant difference in waste reduction. Before California’s plastic bag ban went into effect in 2017, plastic bags comprised 8 to 10 percent of litter collected along California’s coastal areas. After the ban was implemented, the percentage dropped to 3.87 percent. Every little bit helps in protecting the health of Californians and the environment. 

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Oct 11, 2019