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/132 

    Posted on In the Loop by Linda Mumma on Oct 20, 2020

  • Save Hundreds of Dollars a Year and Make Your Groceries Go Further!

     

    Family cooking dinner

     

    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!

    Food Scraps

     

    • 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!

    Join us on Facebook and Twitter and help us reduce household food waste to save money—and to save the planet.

    Posted on In the Loop by Heather Jones on May 5, 2020

  • The Easiest Ways to Save the Planet from Home

    Using Less Means More Trees, More Money, and Less Toxic Microplastic.

    hands holding earth


    As we pause our constant busy pace in order to save lives, we see what a difference we can make when we all work together. Because we have disrupted many of our routines and habits, we may find it easier to change some habits permanently to help the planet still be livable by the end of this century and beyond. Using less helps the planet more.

    Los Angeles skyline with San Gabriel mountains behind, before picture shows smog obscuring mountains, while after picture shows mountains crystal clear.

    Smog around the Los Angeles skyline used to obscure the San Gabriel Mountains.

     

    Reducing Helps the Environment Even More than Recycling Does

    You may already help by recycling right—rinsing out and drying a container before throwing it in the blue bin. But “recycle” comes third in our “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra because reducing and reusing help the environment even more.

    drop of water on leaf shows reflection of entire earth

     

    Why Using Less Helps the Planet More

    Reducing has the biggest impact because you lessen the demand for more resources and use less energy manufacturing and transporting products. 

    Reducing:

    • Saves money
    • Saves energy
    • Prevents pollution from harvesting and transporting raw materials
    • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change
    • Helps the planet stay livable for our children and future grandchildren
    • Lowers how much we have to recycle or send to landfills and incinerators

      While recycling helps reduce trash, of the 8.4 percent of plastic that gets recycled in the US, most is only recycled one time because the quality degrades each time it is recycled. Then it joins the rest of the plastic polluting our planet as toxic microplastics in our air, water, and earth.

    Reducing Means More Trees to Clean Greenhouse Gases Out of the Air

     

    Pine tree grove

    Americans use 110 million trees just for paper towels every year.

    When we reduce our use of single-use paper products, we cut down fewer trees—trees that fight global warming by turning carbon in the air into oxygen.

    When we reduce our use of petroleum-based plastic water bottles, we won’t have as much plastic in our oceans and landfills that breaks down into toxic microplastics that will stay in our water and air for centuries.

    It’s Easy to Use Less Right Now

    Here are some easy ways to reduce that can save you hundreds of dollars a year, as well.

    empty shelves in a grocery store

    A shortage of single use paper products in stores is driving us to reusable options.

    It’s hard to find some paper products in stores right now, so it’s a perfect time to explore other options that will save you money and waste fewer resources in the long run.

    Save 80 Rolls of Paper Towels a Year

    Paper towels

    woman using real towels to clean

    Replace paper towels with kitchen towels, old towels, or rags you can wash and reuse.

    Americans throw away 3,000 tons of paper towels a year that come from 110 million trees. That breaks down to 80 rolls of paper towels a year per person. Think of the trees and the money you’ll save!

    Paper napkins

    Order dark, wrinkle- resistant cloth napkins that won’t show stains to use several times between washes.  

    About 243 million Americans use between one and six packages of paper napkins a month.

    Plastic water bottles

    person filling reusable water bottle at sink

    Buy a reusable bottle and water filter and drink cleaner water for less money with zero waste!

    Americans purchase about 50 billion water bottles every year. That’s around 13 bottles per month for every person. By using a reusable water bottle, you can save an average of 156 plastic bottles annually, or more if you drink one or more bottles a day. Most bottled water is just tap water that leaches plastic into the water.

    Food waste

    The average family of four spends $1,500 on uneaten food each year

    Freeze food like bread and berries to use as you need them.

    Two-thirds of the trash we send to landfills is organic. Right now most of us don’t want to shop at groceries more often than necessary. The further we can make our food go, the fewer times we need to go out to the store or put in an order that can take up to a week for a local store to deliver. Do more with less. Get more food tips in our article “How to Stretch Your Food While Quarantined.”

    How are you reducing waste while you’re at home? Let us know and we’ll share on social media!

    Posted on In the Loop by Heather Jones and Maria West on Apr 20, 2020