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

  • Why Do We Recycle Tires?

    tire fire

    Tire fires of past decades could take months to extinguish, while emitting smoke thick containing cyanide, carbon monoxide, and other toxins.

    Until 19 years ago, countless illegally dumped tires polluted our state. Large piles of old tires sometimes even caught fire in the hot California sun. These tire fires put off toxic smoke containing cyanide and carbon monoxide. Because a fire can continue to burn deep inside a pile of tires after the top layer appears extinguished, firefighters struggled to put out these smoldering blazes that emitted thick, black plumes of toxic smoke that sometimes burned for months.

    California turned to recycling to solve the problem of tires:

    1. Catching fire
    2. Clogging waterways
    3. Filling with water that bred disease-causing mosquitoes

    tire pile

    Where can we put 51 million tires a year?

    California’s 35 million registered vehicles generate 51 million used tires every year. To manage this constant flow of vulcanized rubber into the waste stream, California passed the Tire Recycling Act in 1989, which created the Tire Recycling Program. After a series of devastating illegal tire pile fires in 1998 and 1999, the law was strengthened in 2000.

    To prevent illegal stockpiles of tires, the state has:

    1. Permitted tire storage facilities
    2. Enforced used tire storage and management laws
    3. Developed recycled tire product options

    To find new uses for more than 82 percent of 51 million worn-out tires a year, CalRecycle constantly innovates and evaluates safety studies. The department awards grants and loans to businesses and public entities to expand the safest markets for waste tires.

    tire cover on playground

    Different styles of playground cover are a common use of recycled tires.

    Across California, companies are producing tire-derived products made from recycled tires, including:

    • Playground surfaces
    • Roofing
    • Flooring, including rubber mats for gyms
    • Path cover
    • Roads
    • Accessibility ramps

    cars driving on golden gate bridge

    Where the rubber becomes the road

    For more than 30 years, ground-up, recycled tires mixed with asphalt have produced cost-effective, durable, and environmentally friendly binder in concrete road cover.  Overall, about 2.7 million tires have gone to paving California’s roads.

    Tire rubber makes up only about 1 percent of rubberized asphalt concrete. The asphalt binder absorbs the rubber into it, reducing its ability to break away as a microparticle. These streets last about 50 percent longer than roads made from asphalt alone.

    tire project

     Many local governments have used tire-derived aggregate in place of conventional construction material for civil engineering projects to:

    • Backfill retaining walls
    • Stabilize hills to keep them from slipping into landslides
    • Absorb vibrations 
    • Fill in land for other reasons

    This tire material helps solve a variety of civil engineering challenges because it drains better and costs less than other lightweight, mixed material building aggregate.

    “Tire-derived aggregate requires minimum processing and reduces the need for mining (like other lightweight fills) in facilities that generate greenhouse gases,” said William Heung, CalRecycle Senior Waste Management Engineer for the Materials Management and Local Assistance Division.

    Tires saved millions on California transportation

    Local governments used this tire material to expand rail systems for both the Bay Area Rapid Transportation (BART) and the Metropolitan Transportation Agency in Southern California. The cushioning rubber from tires absorbs vibrations underneath the tracks.

    Along with keeping about 500,000 tires from going into landfills, these two projects saved BART and MTA millions of dollars.

    tire project aerial shot

    Tire material stabilizes a retaining wall on a hill that prevents mudslides in Santa Barbara. 

    A recent innovative road project in Santa Barbara used tire material to stabilize a retaining wall located on a hill. Because the tire material won’t degrade even when wet, engineers expect it to support the retaining wall more effectively and help prevent mudslides that can happen when water washes away soil on a hill. (View video.)

    Keeping tires from trashing California

    California’s population will continue to grow, so our efforts to expand tire recycling must keep pace.

    Over the last few years, through its grants and loans, CalRecycle has funded rubberized road concrete and other tire material projects to prevent millions of waste tires from ending up illegally dumped or in landfills.

    CalRecycle explores potential tire products as we work to reach the state's zero waste goals while preventing tire fires that pollute our air with poisonous smoke. 

    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Feb 18, 2020

  • At a Glance: Recycling Matters

    Recycling matters.

     

    Did you know: California’s population has climbed to nearly 40 million people, but our state sends less material to landfills now than it did in 1989.

    See why Recycling Matters More than Ever… for our climate, for our environment, and  for future generations.

    Recycling gives us:

    1. Healthier food
    2. Cleaner air
    3. Less litter and pollution
    4. More air purifying trees
    5. Less climate changing gases
    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Feb 13, 2020

  • Engaging Community to Achieve Environmental Justice

     

    Tom Steel with CalRecycle Acting Director Ken DaRosa and Environmental Justice Coordinator Maria Salinas

    Executive Fellow Tom Steel with Environmental Justice Manager Maria Salinas and Acting Director Ken DaRosa.

    Government employees know how to address environmental crises; but, unless we live in communities with contaminated drinking water, searing heat waves, and pollution-induced asthma attacks, we can never truly understand the lives shaped by environmental injustice. Lower-income populations experience greater pollution burdens because community members are often not involved in the government approval decision-making process of polluting facilities proposed for their neighborhoods. The reasons include:

    • Historical practices such as redlining mortgage practices that ensured entire neighborhoods only included a specific racial population
    • Lack of political clout or money to afford attorneys to speak up against industrial infrastructure locating near them

    Equity versus equality means helping disadvantaged communities with equal access to resources.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    “Health equity means that everyone has the opportunities and resources needed for optimal health and well-being,” LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrerhas commented. Environmental justice begins with having a say about the safety of the place you live.

    A sea of complicated questions awaits the community member who tries to address environmental injustice. How will a new or expanded compost facility impact local residents? How can members of the public use the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which requires the disclosure of significant environmental effects of a proposed discretionary project? How can the online screening tool CalEnviroScreen, which identifies communities disproportionately burdened by pollution, help when the decision-making process includes a lack of transparency and inclusion of community members’ voices?

    Those with answers about how to address pollution issues can benefit from the perspective of people living in impacted communities. Those who live in these areas can learn about support, tools, and how to make their voices heard to protect their communities. In this nexus lies the potential to interact with communities and achieve environmental justice together.

    woman standing in front of truck with clipboard and group raking organic waste in yard.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    At CalRecycle’s environmental justice symposium “Planning for Justice,” at 1001 I Street, Sacramento, CA on Tuesday, February 11th at 10 AM, speakers will facilitate a discussion about best practices for prioritizing true community engagement for more equitable infrastructure planning. 

    We are honored to feature California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) Secretary Jared Blumenfeld, as our introductory speaker. Secretary Blumenfeld oversees five boards and departments, as well as one office in CalEPA’s efforts to: 

    • Fight climate change
    • Protect air and water quality 
    • Regulate pesticides and toxic substances
    • Achieve the state’s recycling and waste reduction goals
    • Advance environmental justice

    The California Environmental Justice Alliance’s Policy and Political Director Katie Valenzuela will explain the relationship between government planning and environmental justice using local examples and identifying opportunities to improve community input related to the planning process. 

    Cesar Campos from CalEPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control will conduct a simulation of “real life” infrastructure planning with participants acting as city planners. Participants will understand how to effectively engage in the community development planning process.

    The best practices demonstrated in this symposium can prepare communities to increase knowledge, education, and transparency to further empower residents to access and actively participate in government development of community infrastructure. 

    When government employees and community members work together, we can create a more inclusive and environmentally equitable California for all. We look forward to seeing you there. 

    Posted on In the Loop by Tom Steel on Feb 6, 2020