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

  • Youth and Teacher Engagement in Pomona

    In 2013, the California Environmental Protection Agency created the Environmental Justice Compliance and Enforcement Working Group to focus on communities that contain multiple sources of pollution and are disproportionately vulnerable to its effects. The group is now known as the Environmental Justice Task Force. 

    One of the primary goals of the group is to provide community members opportunities for input on potential environmental justice concerns and the implementation of remedies. The task force also conducts initiatives to increase local compliance with environmental laws in targeted areas. CalRecycle has played a role in initiatives in Fresno, Los Angeles and Oakland.

    The latest initiative, in Pomona, was led by staff from CalRecycle and the Department of Toxic Substances Control. The project began last summer and concluded in March, and included a concerted effort to engage youth and teachers.

    Leadership Workshop

    Staff from CalRecycle and DTSC facilitated a weekly leadership workshop with high school students through an after-school organization, Pomona Hope. Pomona Hope is a community-driven, faith-based nonprofit that works to empower people of all backgrounds, particularly at-risk youth and their families, to work together toward personal and community transformation.

    Students learned about environmental justice, explored local issues related to pollution and equity, and were provided opportunities to engage civically. Students also participated in activities to gain insight into the role of local and state government and learned about different ways to participate. The CalEnviroScreen mapping tool was used to identify local sources of pollution and explore what factors make Pomona especially vulnerable to its effects.

    ‘Toxic Tour’

    In December, staff from CalRecycle and DTSC partnered with community organization United Voices of Pomona for Environmental Justice to host a “toxic tour” for students and teachers in Pomona. A toxic tour is a tour of an area where people live adjacent to multiple sources of pollution. The goal is to increase awareness of the potential health risks those pollution sources pose to certain groups of people.


    Pomona students and teachers, led by United Voices of Pomona for Environmental Justice, on a community toxic tour.

    After the tour, staff from CalRecycle and the California Air Resources Board gave a presentation on environmental justice and how pollution relates to both equity and the economy. Garey High School teacher Ion Puschila then tasked his AP Macroeconomics students with a project exploring the economic costs of pollution.

    EEI Materials

    To encourage broader environmental literacy during the Pomona project, Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) curriculum materials were distributed to teachers and community organizations in the area. CalRecycle’s EEI is a free, K-12 curriculum designed to increase environmental literacy through lessons and activities that teach science and history through an environmental lens.

    In an effort to support the current work of students and teachers in Pomona, CalRecycle staff connected with Vanessa Villagran’s and Jacquelynn Fischer’s third-grade classes from Kingsley Elementary School. The students will showcase their work on plastic pollution at the annual meeting of the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials later this month.

    In the near future, the youth of today will represent their communities and have a voice in civic life. Preparing the youth of today can translate into an engaged citizenry tomorrow. And together, we can strengthen environmental justice in communities across California – and in doing so enrich and protect the very lives of those youth whose environmental awareness and activism we nurture.

    Posted on In the Loop by Angela Vincent on Apr 3, 2018

  • 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).


    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 webpagehighlighting 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.

    —Angela Vincent

    Posted on In the Loop by Angela Vincent on Nov 2, 2017

  • Recycle or Toss? Don’t Just Guess!

    When in doubt, throw it out? Or, when in doubt, recycle?

    It’s difficult to set black-and-white rules on what is recyclable and what is not, because it all comes down to your specific waste hauler or trash company. What’s accepted for recycling in one community may not be in a neighboring area.

    Most of us know the universal sign for recycling, the three chasing arrows in a triangle.


    But this symbol below—three chasing arrows with a number inside—is more confusing.


    No, these numbers having nothing to do with serving size or nutritional content. They designate the type of plastic the item is made from.

    Plastic #1—or, if you dare to refer to it as its proper name, polyethylene terephthalate—is the most widely used plastic. Think soda bottles, water bottles, and peanut butter jars. There are seven different types of plastic designations that you will find on commonly used items.

    This quick video explains the seven different types of plastic and offers tips on their best use: Here’s What Those Little Numbers Inside Recycling Symbols Really Mean. 

    And remember, just because you see an item sporting the chasing-arrows symbol with a number inside it, that does not mean the item is recyclable in your area. Contact your local waste hauler (take a peek at the trash truck next time they come by to figure out who it is) or visit the hauler’s website for information about what can and cannot be recycled in your area.

    The first step, of course, is to limit the plastic we use altogether. The next step is to find out what goes in your blue bin to ensure our discards can be resurrected into something new to save resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and contribute to the circular economy.

    Video courtesy of Evon

    Posted on In the Loop by Angela Vincent on Mar 27, 2017