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

  • Introducing CalRecycle’s Zero Waste Webpages

    CalRecycle’s zero waste team has added content to our Zero Waste webpage just as the announcement of the rebranding of the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council’s certification to the new TRUE Zero Waste Certification occurs. TRUE stands for “Total Resource Use and Efficiency” and the rating system is now administered by Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI) and housed under the U.S. Green Business Council (USGBC).

    Zero Waste Hierarchy

    Businesses participating in the Zero Waste Certification program strive to divert 90 percent of their overall waste from landfill and incineration.

    CalRecycle’s Zero Waste Businesses webpage has new content designed for businesses striving for zero waste, including case studies and information about various certification programs.

    The Grass Roots Recycling Network (GRRN) describes zero waste as “a goal, a process, a way of thinking that profoundly changes the approach to resources and production. Not only is zero waste about recycling and diversion from landfills, it also restructures production and distribution systems to prevent waste from being manufactured in the first place.”

    “A zero waste system enables communities to not only protect the environment, but uncover economic opportunities,” says Stephanie Barger, director of market development for Zero Waste Programs with TRUE. “It reduces costs and improves efficiency, and by championing a zero waste economy, we’re helping transform the way we do business.”

    In 2013, CalRecycle showed its support for the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (now TRUE) by becoming a founding member. CalRecycle recognized that the Zero Waste Certification for businesses supports the goals of AB 341 to increase the state’s rate of recycling, composting and source reduction to 75 percent. Through this partnership, CalRecycle employees have had access to zero waste workshops, webinars, and conferences and have had opportunities to engage with like-minded individuals and organizations. CalRecycle has compiled a resources webpage highlighting other zero waste organizations and educational programs.

    Are you wondering if your city or county has a zero waste policy or program? Visit the Zero Waste Communities webpage for a list and find other tools for local governments as well.

    To read more about the new partnership that administers the TRUE Zero Waste Certification system, please see the U.S. Green Business Council’s TRUE announcement.

    Posted on In the Loop by Angela Vincent on Sep 13, 2018

  • Real-World Education

    Civics teacher takes kids beyond the classroom for a lesson in environmentalism, community activism, and government responsibility

    A high school civics teacher in Brawley partnered with state environmental agencies for a yearlong student project focusing on environmental justice, air pollution, and the Salton Sea.

    On May 4, CalRecycle staff attended a showcase at Brawley Union High School celebrating the project led by teacher Jose Flores. The project included lectures, hands-on activities, and fieldtrips to increase environmental literacy and to provide professional development opportunities for students from disadvantaged communities.

    The goals of the program included: academic development through environmental literacy, professional development through exposure to leaders in multiple environmental fields, and personal development through hands-on and active learning opportunities that apply academic concepts to real-world issues.

    At the showcase event, students presented on the history and significance of environmental justice and the health implications of hazardous dust from the Salton Sea. Over the course of the project, students learned not only about these issues but also about the roles and responsibilities of different levels of government.

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    Luis Olmedo, Founder and Executive Director of Comite Civico del Valle, left, speaks with civics teacher Jose Flores at Brawley Union High School.

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    For one demonstration, students modeled the difference between dry soil and wet soil at the Salton Sea and explained how the dust from the dry lakebed contributes to the poor air quality of the surrounding community. They suggested that keeping the soil wet will limit the dust and reduce contamination.

    Flores described his project as a way to expand teaching and learning beyond the four walls of the classroom. He wanted to apply academic concepts to real-world issues and provide opportunities for students to engage civically on community issues.

    “It takes a village and a plan,” Flores said. He explained how the Blueprint for Environmental Education and the College, Career & Civic Life (C3) Framework served as the “perfect storm” to connect students to the environment and their community and to apply knowledge toward local improvements.

    Flores has been recognized for his efforts with numerous awards and accolades and, in 2016, was honored by the Obama Administration with the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators(PIAEE).

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    Brawley Union High School students learned about different boards, departments, and offices within CalEPA and painted related pictures for the attendees to take home. Shown are, from left, Angela Vincent, CalRecycle; Jose Flores, Brawley Union High School civics teacher; Kevin Olp, CalEPA; Abraham Zhan, DTSC; Ana Mascareñas, DTSC; and Jaimie Huynh, CalRecycle

    Abraham Zhan, who led the project for DTSC, explained, “One of the most important things about progressing not only as an individual, but as a society, is to always question things and ask to figure out why things work or how they work.” Zhan said teaching students how to think, rather than what to think, was a critical goal throughout the process.

    Engaging youth in a meaningful way is crucial to tackling difficult issues that both communities and government face today, and will undoubtedly face tomorrow. CalRecycle continues to think creatively about how to support students and teachers across California to create cleaner, safer, and more sustainable communities.

    Posted on In the Loop by Angela Vincent on May 31, 2018

  • A Primer on Plastic Pollution

    A group of Pomona third-graders that has been studying plastic pollution presented their work at a national waste and materials management meeting last month. For their efforts, they were honored with a standing ovation—and a check for $400 for reusable water bottles. 

    The students presented to about 250 people at the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO) 2018 Mid-Year Meeting last month in Anaheim. They described how fish and other animals mistake plastic litter for food and how plastic debris creates dead zones and garbage patches in ocean waters.

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    As part of their Kingsley Elementary School project, they read articles about plastic and researched the Great Pacific Garbage Patch as well as dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico. They

    also collected trash around the campus and weighed and sorted it. After finding that plastic water bottles were ending up in the trash at their school, they made videos and posters to encourage fellow students to use reusable water bottles.

    “I thought the experience was fun and nice to do to tell other people what is going on on the planet,” said Darian, a third-grader who was involved in the project. His classmates agreed.

    “I was surprised that everybody liked our ideas that we did and we won the $400!” Reyna added.

    Their teachers, Vanessa Villagran and Jacquelynn Fischer, said the presentation was a valuable experience for the students, and that developing environmental awareness at a young age is key to working for change in the future. 

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    CalRecycle was introduced to the students’ work through the California Environmental Protection Agency’s (CalEPA) Environmental Justice Task Force. The task force was created in 2013 to coordinate compliance and enforcement across all of CalEPA’s boards and departments (air, water, pesticides, waste and recycling, toxic substances, and environmental assessment) in communities that contain multiple sources of pollution and that are disproportionately vulnerable to its effects.

    Pomona was selected by CalEPA as an area of focus for an Environmental Justice Enforcement Initiative in part using a mapping tool called CalEnviroScreen, which was developed to help identify California communities who face environmental justice issues. Through the Pomona initiative, an effort was made to specifically engage youth and teachers.

    CalRecycle’s Deputy Director of the Waste Permitting, Compliance and Mitigation Division, Mark de Bie, is the past president of ASTSWMO and helped facilitate California’s involvement in the meeting. CalRecycle will continue to work with ASTSWMO to engage youth to restore, protect, and enhance the environment and public health in California and help showcase the great work by teachers throughout the state.

    —Angela Vincent

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    Posted on In the Loop by Angela Vincent on May 10, 2018