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

  • 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

  • Be the Change: Tina's Story

     

    CalRecycle's Tina Chambers is an Executive Assistant and combines her passion for the environment with her communication skills to protect California's public health. Check out this video for a glimpse into her job and what she enjoys about working at CalRecycle.

    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Feb 3, 2020

  • Why We Still Need to Recycle Bottles and Cans

    Since 1986 California has kept 400 billion plastic, glass, aluminum, and bi-metal containers out of our landfills and off our streets by recycling them. Despite our recent loss in the number of conveniently located recycling centers because of dips in the global aluminum scrap market, California still recycled around 18.5 billion beverage containers in 2019.

    By continuing our commitment to recycling, we can keep these materials from adding to pollution and our already growing landfills.

    In 1986, California passed the Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act with these goals:

    • To reduce litter and landfilled trash
    • To use recyclable material for manufacturing, rather than mining the planet for new materials. 

    plastic bottles and cans flowing into a river

    California gave consumers a financial reason to recycle in 1986 to reduce litter and save materials discarded after one use.

    Do We Want a State Littered with Bottles?

    We drink most beverages away from home, so having a returnable deposit on the containers can motivate the purchasers to return used bottles and cans for their nickels or dimes. Not all consumers will go to the trouble to recycle, but the redemption program incentivizes others who find a bottle to return it for its monetary value.

    In 2018, Californians bought 24.5 billion redemption eligible bottles and cans and recycled about 18.5 billion of those.

    That’s 18.5 billion bottles and cans not dumped in our streets, waterways, and ocean to join the plastic from other sources polluting our planet, filling our seas, and killing our marine life. An often-cited study from the World Economic Forum estimates that by the year 2050, the world’s oceans will have more plastic than fish.   

    closeup picture of plastic bottles baled into cubes

    Plastic bottles: Designed to use for a few minutes. Built to last forever.

    Plastic Breaks Into Toxic Microplastic 

    Plastic containers might be designed to use for a few minutes, but they are built to last forever. Even if discarded in streets or landfills breaks down into smaller pieces, but it can only become toxic microplastics that poison our bodies and environment. It will never biodegrade into harmless organic matter like most glass does.  

    Do We Want Microplastics In Our Bodies?

    Unknowingly, we each ingest an average of 50,000 pieces of these microplastics each year in liquids, fish, and other foods. We breathe in about the same amount. We don’t yet know the effect these microplastics have, but they may cause immune reactions or have other health impacts

     

    recycling bottles

    Recycling Stretches Our Limited Resources

    Discarding bottles and cans instead of recycling them means we must constantly use new materials to manufacture the 24 billion new beverage containers we buy every year.  

    Recycling also brings: 

    The best thing you can do for California’s environment right now is to continue recycling. If you discover that a retailer obligated to redeem and listed on our database will not redeem your bottles and cans, please report them to CalRecycle’s help line: (800) RECYCLE.

    We follow up on every complaint. Let’s work together to keep recycling for our environment and our future. 

      

    Posted on In the Loop by Heather Jones on Jan 27, 2020