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

  • Eight Ways to Stretch Your Food While Quarantined

    The average family of four spends $150 on uneaten food each year

     

    Most of us are sheltering-in-place right now, having already stocked up on non-perishable canned and frozen food. Since every foray into society could bring exposure to COVID-19, consider ways to maximize the food you have to last as long as possible and save you trips to the grocery store.  It will also help you reduce food waste, a major contributor of greenhouse gases coming out of landfills.

    Here are eight ways to stretch the food you’ve saved:

    1. Make a double batch of sauces, stews, beans, and casseroles, and save the rest in the freezer for a future weeknight dinner with zero cooking.
    2. Create a scrap bag in your freezer to use to make stock for soups and sauces. I have a scrap bag in my freezer full of food scraps. Any time you peel a carrot, slice an onion, or cut the edges off a bell pepper, you can divert the leftovers from the garbage into the scrap bag kept in the freezer. Once the scrap bag is full, simmer the contents with water over low heat for about an hour, then save the liquid for a tasty stock to make soups and sauces. Cook rice, beans, or quinoa in it to add extra flavor. 
    3. Keep bread in the freezer and defrost a slice or two when you need them.
    4. Dried beans are cheap and freeze easily. You can cook a double batch in your crock pot and freeze half for an easy meal.
    5. Soups hold up well when they’re stored in containers in the freezer. You can even freeze individual servings for a quick meal on demand.
    6. Buy meat in bulk, divide it into single portions, and defrost as you need them. Meats can be cheaper in bulk and often have less packaging.
    7. Fruits like berries are simple to freeze. Place them on a cookie sheet, freeze them overnight, and transfer them to an empty container to store in the freezer. Frozen berries liven up morning smoothies.
    8. Butter freezes well and is easy to defrost when you get the baking itch. It’s also often cheaper to buy in bulk.

       

      I hope these tips are as useful to you. To learn more about preventing food waste, please visit Save The Food. Interested in other ways to reduce food waste? Check out the Public Health Alliance of Southern California’s Resource Library and CalRecycle’s Resource Directory.

    Posted on In the Loop by CalRecycle Staff on Mar 23, 2020

  • Fighting Climate Change by Feeding Those in Need

    Team Edible Launches California's First Edible Food Recovery Public Meeting 

     Picture of Kyle Pogue, Martine Boswell, Cara Morgan at a podium presenting.

    CalRecycle "Team Edible" – Kyle Pogue, Martine Boswell, and Cara Morgan

    This past Thursday, February 27, CalRecycle partnered with Yolo Food Bank for California’s very first SB 1383 edible food recovery public kick-off meeting, giving 100 leaders from food recovery organizations, edible food generators, and jurisdictions an in-depth look at how new edible food recovery mandates provide an opportunity to redirect unsold, edible food to Californians who need it most.

    Julie Trueblood

    Julie Trueblood from CalRecycle's Local Assistance and Management (LAMD) team, presented at the event.

    “There is so much food waste that is disposed of on a daily basis in California,” pointed out Martine Boswell, a CalRecycle environmental scientist who advises on food waste prevention, edible food recovery, and overall food waste management. “Edible food that is disposed is unnecessary and, in most cases, completely preventable.”

    Martine explained that while SB 1383, a bill with a goal to reduce short-lived climate pollutants in the atmosphere, has two organic waste disposal reduction targets, it also includes a goal: that 20 percent of edible food currently sent to landfills must be recovered for human consumption by 2025.

    This target provides an opportunity to sustainably fund infrastructure and capacity to help bring millions of pounds of edible food, which retailers have historically sent to landfills, to the one in eight Californians who are food insecure, often not knowing where or when they will get their next meal.

    The term "edible food" means food intended for human consumption. But it must also meet the food safety requirements of the California Retail Food Code. “Food safety is absolutely critical,” Martine assured the gathered stakeholders from Yolo County. 

    Matt Henigan presenting at the Yolo County Food Bank event

    CalRecycle Deputy Director Matt Henigan discussed the issues of climate change and hunger that SB 1383 addresses.

    “SB 1383 is the most wide-ranging and impactful solid waste legislation of the last 30 years,” CalRecycle Deputy Director Matt Henigan told the audience. “It requires a reduction of organic waste by 75 percent by 2025. It also requires a 20 percent edible food recovery goal…This is unique and groundbreaking for California.”

    “We’re very proud at CalRecycle to be a part of feeding hungry people,” Matt Henigan went on, addressing how short-lived climate pollutant bill SB 1383 gives his staff a chance to both help the environment and make a tangible difference to California’s one in five food insecure children.

    Explaining the reason CalRecycle was tasked with reducing organic waste disposal, Matt added that “Two-thirds of the waste stream is organic waste and food waste is the largest component of the waste stream. Landfilling organic waste emits methane, and 21 percent of methane emissions come from landfills. Methane is 70 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas global warming contributor, which has led to climate change impacts: fires, coastal erosion, and impacts on agriculture. Every 2.5 tons of food that’s diverted is the equivalent of taking one car off the road for a year. Reducing these emissions is by far the best investment we can make.” 

    Yolo County Health & Human Services Branch Manager Nolan Sullivan

    “One in five children in Yolo County is going to go to bed hungry tonight. What are we going to do about it?” Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency Service Centers Branch Manager Nolan Sullivan (pictured above) pointed out the opportunity to solve this significant, problem while working to reach SB 1383’s 20 percent edible food recovery targets.

    CalRecycle Organics Staff

    CalRecycle staff who took part in the event, from left to right:  Matt Henigan (MMLA), Joe Rasmussen (LAMD), Julie Trueblood (LAMD), Ashlee Yee (LAMD), Maria West (Public Affairs), Cara Morgan (LAMD), Tom Steel (Executive Fellow), Pinar Kose (LAMD), Alex Byrne (FiRM), Martine Boswell (STAR), Kyle Pogue (STAR), Sheina Meiners (FiRM), Jeffory McDaniel (LAMD), Ken Yee (LAMD), and John Duke (LAMD). 

    CalRecycle organics staff came together for this exciting event that the department sees as a model for many more food recovery collaboration launches throughout our state in the next year. Forging these connections will help jurisdictions, edible food generators, and food recovery organizations improve existing food recovery networks to ensure that edible food is diverted from landfills and put to its highest and best use of helping feed people in need.  

    Posted on In the Loop by Maria West on Mar 2, 2020

  • CalRecycle—Uniquely Qualified for Disaster Recovery

     

    After a catastrophic wildfire, getting “back to normal” is nearly impossible for any single property owner to handle. A family’s ability to rebuild—and the livability of the neighborhood—depends on what the family next door does, as well as the family next to them.

    Todd Thalamer looking at debris removal project progress.

    Todd Thalhamer at the site of the 2007 Boles Fire in Weed, Siskiyou County.

     

    “Who wants to be the first house that’s developed, when you look out the window and all you see is nothing but ash and debris?” asks CalRecycle engineer Todd Thalhamer, the architect of a program that has cleaned up nearly 20,000 homes in the last decade. “When it comes right down to it, it’s a psychological issue—and a property value issue. If you clean up everything, you jump-start a community.”

    The Integrated Waste Management Board, which later morphed into CalRecycle, started the Consolidated Debris Removal Program in 2007 to clean up the aftermath of the Angora Fire in South Lake Tahoe. The majority of properties with affected homes drained into Angora Creek, which runs right into Lake Tahoe. This created an urgency to clean up debris before winter arrived and it washed into the famously clear and pristine lake. Crews were on the ground quickly. Firefighters extinguished most of the blaze by July 4. Ten days later, debris removal crews had the first home site cleared. The whole response effort was completed in three months.

    Safe Enough for Our Own Children

    From the beginning, this program balanced service to the homeowners, the community, and the environment. “At the time, I had a three-year-old,” Thalhamer recalled. “I’d tell the contractors, if it’s safe for my three-year-old to walk across this lot, then we know that a family is ready to rebuild.” Program staff have always valued this personal level of safety. This means cleaning up dangerous materials most homeowners don’t even realize lay in the ashes of their destroyed houses.

     

    wildfire debris

    After a wildfire, property owners need experts to identify toxicity in the rubble and ashes.

     

    A few of the invisible toxins common in residential burn scars include:

    • Heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury, zinc, and lead, which is especially high in homes built before 1978.
    • Asbestos, which is present in most homes built before 1985 and in some newer homes as well.
    • Hazardous materials such as propane tanks, air conditioners, batteries, pesticides, and herbicides are common in most homes.

    For CalRecycle, the disaster debris removal program extends the department’s mission to ensure that California safely manages our materials—whether toxic and recyclable or not—to their best and highest use. It’s what the department does day in and day out. CalRecycle staff are experts in this. The debris removal program intensifies this effort in the service to communities recovering from tragedy.

    The Go-To Crew After Disasters

    In the years immediately following the 2007 Angora Fire, the debris removal team was only activated one time—for the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion. But in 2014, the Boles Fire in Siskiyou County swept into a neighborhood in Weed destroying over a hundred homes, echoing the devastation seven years previously in South Lake Tahoe. The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) called on CalRecycle to respond, and the team has worked almost continuously on cleaning up wildfire debris since then.

    Since 2014, CalRecycle has:

    • Overseen 20 major disaster projects
    • Removed 5.6 million tons of materials (65 percent from the 2019 clean up of the Camp Fire)
    • Performed disaster recovery for 16 different counties, from Los Angeles to the Oregon border
    • Cleaned and certified 17,297 properties as ready to rebuild in suburban neighborhoods, farms, mountain valley towns, scenic coastlines, and forested cabin areas.

    We’re On a Mission from Cal OES

    CalRecycle doesn’t take on these projects of its own volition. Cal OES must mission task CalRecycle before we can help. This can happen after Cal OES grants a request for assistance from a local jurisdiction in crisis. In fact, the only major incident in the past five years that CalRecycle didn’t mobilize to clean up was the 2017 North Bay fires, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers handled.

    For one key CalRecycle debris team member, the department has proven its expertise in clean up and managing the destroyed materials. “We’ve earned the confidence of others that we can handle projects this size with efficiency,” Alan Zamboanga said.

    Zamboanga, who served as the finance chief or contract manager on most of the projects since 2014, points out that CalRecycle continues to demonstrate operational and financial efficiency, including the massive 11,000-property Camp Fire debris recovery project. “Because of our expertise and knowledge, we are the go-to people when it comes to wildfire debris.”

     

    Angora Fire debris removal crew

    The 2007 Angora Fire Incident Management Team on the site of the last property cleaned.

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Chris McSwain on Feb 24, 2020