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

  • 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

  • Recycling Starter Kits--A Must for Any Classroom

    Recycling Starter Kit

    Kids are heading back to school and ready to learn as summer sunshine fades into the golden glow of fall afternoons. Teachers play a vital role in educating kids and families about recycling. CalRecycle offers free Recycling Starter Kits to schools to help kick-start successful recycling programs on campus. 

    Get Your Recycling Starter Kit

    Recycling bins, printable labels, posters, and more are available at Recycling Starter Kit Order or by calling 1-800-RECYCLE. And of course, you don't have to stop with the starter kit. Just slap a label on any trash can and—voila—you've increased your recycling capacity! Most schools collect CRV-eligible bottles and cans, but you can use the bins to collect any recyclable material you want.

    Select a Campus Recycling Coordinator

    It’s helpful to designate a campus recycling coordinator. For elementary and junior high schools, a student can do the job with a teacher’s help. High school students can probably tackle this job with a little supervision from a teacher. A recycling coordinator oversees the recycling program and works to motivate others to participate. It’s a great opportunity for students to teach that recycling is everybody’s job. 

     Arrange for Collection

    Decide how to recycle the materials you collect. Talk with your facility maintenance team about on-site collection  schedules or reach out to the parent teacher association to see if a parent volunteer would be willing to take CRV-eligible bottles and cans to a recycling center to redeem the CRV cash. 

    Promote Your School’s Recycling Program

    It’s easy to get students and teachers excited about recycling. Talk about it at school assemblies and during recess and lunch times when kids are likely to have recyclable food and drink containers. Hang posters and talk about why it’s important to recycle. The easiest way to get kids excited about recycling bottles and cans is to plan how you’ll use the CRV refund money if you return the containers yourself. The Recycling Starter Kit is a simple way to introduce kids to environmental stewardship.

    Posted on In the Loop by Cyndy Paulsen and Christina Files on Aug 30, 2019

  • Sacramento Launches New Recycling App

    Sacramento Recylcing App

    Do you walk around your house and wonder if a certain item in your kitchen or your bathroom is recyclable or not? Well, the City of Sacramento is trying to make the decision-making process a whole lot easier. On Earth Day, the city officially launched the SacRecycle app, designed to provide quick access to recycling tips.

    A main component of the app is the Waste Wizard, which is a database of hundreds of household items. You can use the app to see if an item is recyclable and learn about proper disposal methods.

    The SacRecycle app also features garbage, recycling, street sweeping, and yard waste calendars, along with an interactive waste-sorting game for kids.

    The app works on both Apple and Android devices. Sacramento residents, check it out and share it with your family and friends!  

    Here’s a video with more information about the SacRecycle app.  

    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Aug 26, 2019