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/132Posted on In the Loop by Linda Mumma on Oct 20, 2020
In the wake of changing global markets for recyclable materials , California’s new Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling is getting right to work on strategies to help boost waste reduction, reuse, and recycling. Launched virtually on June 24, the commission of 17 representatives of various stakeholder groups will spend the next six months developing policy recommendations to help clean up California’s recycling stream and strengthen markets for recyclable materials.
“As the fifth largest economy in the world, we not only have a responsibility to be an environmental leader, but we also have an opportunity to change the national and global agenda when it comes to managing materials and resources,” California Secretary for Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld told the group of commission members. “While some point to National Sword policies and other import limitations as a ‘crisis,’ for me, it’s really an opportunity to make sure we clean up the global system and reinvest in California.”
The Commission Includes Recyclers, Haulers, Environmentalists, Jurisdictions, and More
The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) selected the diverse group of commissioners from a pool of applicants representing a wide range of public agencies, private solid waste enterprises, and environmental organizations in large, small, urban, suburban and rural communities throughout California. Giving so many sectors a seat at the table will enable the commission to arrive at solutions that take various priorities and barriers into account.
Commissioner Affiliation John Bouchard Teamsters 350, Principle Officer Deborah Cadena Kern County Recycling John Davis Mojave Desert and Mountain Recycling Authority Jan Dell The Last Beach Cleanup, Founder Jeff Donlevy Ming’s Recycling, General Manager Laura Ferrante Waste Alternatives, Owner Joseph Kalpakoff Mid Valley Disposal, CEO Nick Lapis Californians Against Waste, Director of Advocacy Manuel Medrano City of Chula Vista, Environmental Services Manager Alex Oseguera Waste Management, Director of Government Affairs Eric Potashner Recology, Senior Director of Strategic Affairs Heidi Sanborn National Stewardship Action Council Ann Schneider Millbrae Vice Mayor Coby Skye LA County Public Works, Assistant Deputy Director Sara Toyoda City of Indio, Environmental Programs Coordinator Richard Valle Tri-CED Community Recycling, CEO Tedd Ward Del Norte Solid Waste Management Director
A Goal to Transform Waste into Resources
Over the next six months, the commission will evaluate the current state of recycling in California and recommend policies to reduce contamination in the curbside recycling stream and improve markets for recyclable materials. By January 1, 2021, the commission will offer those policy recommendations to CalRecycle. The goal is to turn more of California’s waste stream into a supply source for California businesses to create new jobs, combat pollution, conserve natural resources, and make California healthier and more sustainable for future generations.
The commission will also provide regular feedback on public messaging and educational materials to encourage recycling and minimize the contamination of materials in curbside recycling programs.
Addressing Domestic Materials Markets and Clearer Recycling Standards
In addition to approving its charter and organizational structure, commissioners used their initial meeting to select Heidi Sanborn and Richard Valle to serve as chair and vice chair.
Sanborn has worked in the materials management industry for nearly 30 years in roles with the California Integrated Waste Management Board (which later became CalRecycle), industry consulting, and as founding director of the California Product Stewardship Council and the National Stewardship Action Council (NSAC). Sanborn is currently the Executive Director at NSAC.
Valle has worked in the recycling industry for forty years in roles that include Chairman of Alameda County’s Recycling Board, councilmember for the City of Union City, and CEO of Tri-CED Community Recycling. Valle currently serves as President of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.
Both Sanborn and Valle said they look forward to helping California clean up its recycling stream.
“I believe this Statewide Recycling Commission will be the forum from which a stronger domestic market for our materials will be born and uniform recycling standards will be created so California residents will have clear direction in their efforts to protect the environment,” said Valle.
California’s Strategy to Rise from a Recycling Downturn
Right now, California is feeling the fallout from a global market disruption as well as declining prices for recycled materials.
Historically, about a third of California’s recyclable material was exported to overseas markets as the state largely operated under a “Collect-Sort-Export” model, with some domestic manufacturing, to manage its recyclable materials.
Exports have been steadily declining since 2011, due in part to changes in foreign import policies that severely limited markets for recycled commodities. These policies, along with competitively lower costs of virgin (raw) materials, have contributed to a dramatic decline in value for some of California’s most commonly exported recyclables. The lack of available markets can sometimes result in potentially recyclable material discarded into California’s already overburdened landfills.
COVID-19 made these problems worse. When the pandemic hit California, safety concerns translated to heightened demand for single-use plastics such as water bottles, personal protective equipment, and grocery bags. At the same time, the reduction in workers available to accept recyclables or process materials contributed to a decline in recycled feedstock.
In combination, these global disruptions create a big challenge for California and its recycling industry, but they also provide the state with a new opportunity to innovate a new model that creates green jobs, supports new markets, reduces pollution, and conserves our natural resources.
What Are the Next Steps?
CalRecycle will continue to host the online commission meetings as it works to fulfill tasks set out by the California Recycling Market Development Act (AB 1583, Eggman, Chapter 690, Statutes of 2019), signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom late last year.
With the commission expected to provide recommendations by January 1, 2021, its members agreed to meet every first and third Wednesday morning of the month. Its next meeting is scheduled for July 15th from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
How Can You Get Involved?
The Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling meetings are open to the public and can be viewed here.
Email questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To have meeting dates and other related information sent your email, subscribe to the Recycling Commission listserv here.Posted on In the Loop by Linda Mumma on Jul 14, 2020
While we’re staying home to save lives, most of us eat almost all our food at home.
You can avoid extra trips to the grocery store, and save money. Follow these easy tips to reduce your household food waste.
Don’t throw out $1,500 a year!
- Save an average of about $1,500 or 1,000 pounds of food a year
- Save water and fuel used to produce the wasted food you throw in the trash.
- Lower gases that cause climate change.
Organic waste, including food waste, in landfills emits 20 percent of the state’s methane, a short-lived greenhouse super pollutant 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Reducing food waste and organic waste disposal is one of the fastest and easiest ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Let’s get started!
Follow the environmental mantra: Reduce, reuse, recycle.
- Check your kitchen before you shop.
Before heading to the grocery store, plan your meals for the week. See what you already have in your fridge and cupboards to avoid buying too much.
- Shop your kitchen.
Look up recipes for using what you have in your cupboard or fridge. Here’s a delicious recipe for “pesto sauce” from Serious Eats to liven up any box of pasta you forgot you had in the cupboard.
- Make friends with your freezer.
Cold storage can provide many life hacks! What do you freeze that might surprise some people? Share with us on Facebook and Twitter!
- Substitute with what you have.
If the recipe calls for sour cream, unsweetened Greek yogurt works in a pinch!
- Understand food date labels.
Many foods are still perfectly safe to eat after the “sell by” date, or even the “use by” date, has passed. Educate yourself and don’t toss food that’s safe.
- Only buy products in bulk that have a long shelf life.
These days of social isolation won’t last forever, but we can make our food and dollars stretch with some new Earth-friendly lifestyle habits now that we can keep up even after we resume our social lives.
We’re all in this together!Posted on In the Loop by Heather Jones on May 5, 2020