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

  • My Time as a CalRecycle Student Assistant

    It's safe to say that a year ago, I knew very little about the recycling industry in California. But since I joined CalRecycle’s Knowledge Integration Section as a Student Assistant in April of last year, I have become somewhat of an expert.

    Studying environmental policy at UC Davis, I was excited to join CalRecycle and gain as much knowledge as I could on what goes into the regulatory process. In my time here, I’ve done countless eye-opening activities such as sitting in on meetings with my supervisors, assisting with rulemaking packages, and attending site visits of Northern California material recovery facilities.

    Site visits are easily my favorite part of working with CalRecycle. After attending the safety training, I was able to visit four facilities in the area (Sacramento, Galt, etc.) that collect and sort waste, retrieving the recyclable material for resale. Donning highlighter yellow vests and rubber boots, my colleagues and I were led on tours of these facilities, learning more about their operations and how the recent China bans have affected their business. Most places detailed the difficulty of selling their recyclables with new contamination standards in affect overseas.

    Juliet Vaughn


    Juliet Vaughn models a safety vestand hard hat on a site tour.

    Seeing trash being moved and sorted on a conveyor right in front of me was an eye-opening experience. Giant tractors push waste into a pile that makes its way onto a conveyor belt. Coffee cups, to-go boxes, and laundry detergent containers rush past you as a worker picks off certain types of plastic from the line. It goes to show how there really is no “away” and just how important laws like banning plastic straws really are. One of our site visits was to observe a sort crew for the Waste Characterization Study our office conducts. Workers take a large sample of waste and hand sort it by material type (see a previous In The Loop blog post for a video). The goal of the study is to better understand the makeup of California’s waste, with special attention to organics.

    Another part of my work I enjoy is being able to put the knowledge I gain in school to good use. There have been plenty of times when I learned about something at my university one day, only to encounter the exact concept at work soon after. When a colleague was trying to remember what “SEP” stood for, I said, “Supplemental Environmental Project!” with confidence, having learned the acronym in an environmental law class. Putting together rulemaking packages for AB 901, I’ve encountered plenty of documents I learned about in class, including CEQA notices and economic impact statements.

    What they didn’t teach me in school, however, was the tremendous amount of work that goes into crafting a regulation and finalizing it. The packages I put together were upwards of a thousand pages, the product of the hard work put in by people in my office. I took a special interest in all of the thought that goes into the wording of a regulation and how it is interpreted by stakeholders. Replacing just one word in a regulatory text could mean changing everything.

    As I prepare to graduate in June and attend law school in the fall, I won’t forget my time here at CalRecycle. Working with the Knowledge Integration Section has given me insight into all the work that goes into making regulations and the importance of fighting for environmental protection in California. This office has become my community, and I hope to continue working with CalEPA in some capacity one day.

    --Juliet Vaughn

    Juliet Vaughn is a student assistant at CalRecycle.

    Posted on In the Loop by Juliet Vaughn on Feb 4, 2019

  • Local Economies Get Green Boost: $5.3 Million

    Infrastructure Investments Add Jobs, Reduce Waste and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

     

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    SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery approved $5.3 million in loans to two California companies to create new jobs, increase recycling infrastructure, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California. The financing will help Peninsula Plastics Recycling, Inc. of Turlock (Stanislaus County) and U.S. Rubber Recycling, Inc. of Grand Terrace (San Bernardino County) expand their workforce while making use of an additional 17,300 tons of California-generated waste tires and plastic each year.

    “These local investments benefit all Californians by transforming a potential waste stream into a supply stream for our businesses, creating jobs, protecting our planet, and reducing our dependence on unstable foreign markets,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said. In addition to conserving oil and other natural resources, manufacturing products from recycled materials requires less energy and results in fewer GHG emissions than making products from virgin materials.”

    CalRecycle Support Available for California Recycling Businesses

    CalRecycle provides financial and technical assistance to help reuse- and recycling-based businesses develop and prosper in California.

    • CalRecycle’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Loan Program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment, particularly in disadvantaged communities. Through direct low-interest loans, CalRecycle financing helps California businesses expand capacity or establish new facilities that manufacture organics, fiber, plastic, or glass waste materials into new products.
    • CalRecycle’s Recycling Market Development Zone Loan Program combines recycling with state and local economic development incentives to fuel new businesses, expand existing ones, and create additional markets for recycled-content products. The RMDZ program provides loans, technical assistance, and product marketing to recycling businesses located within one of the state’s 40 designated recycling market development zones.

    Peninsula Plastics and U.S. Rubber Recycling -- $5.3 million

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Jan 28, 2019

  • Combating Climate Change in California

    California has made combatting climate change a top priority for our state, and for good reason. Our communities are already battling the negative effects of climate change that endanger public health and the environment. Fortunately, CalRecycle and other state departments are taking steps to reduce its effects.

    Recycling for Climate

    Recycling combats climate change in several ways. First, it reduces the need to extract raw materials to manufacture new products, which reduces energy use and the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. For example, every 10 pounds of aluminum you recycle prevents 37 pounds of carbon emissions.

    SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016) establishes a target to achieve a 75 percent reduction of currently landfilled organic waste by 2025 and diverting this material into recovery activities. It also requires that cities and counties provide organics recycling services to residents and businesses, implement an edible food recovery program, and purchase recycled organics products like compost and renewable natural gas. SB 1383 will also generate thousands of new, locally based recycling jobs.

    Recycling organic materials like yard and food waste prevents methane gas emissions. When landfilled, organic waste decomposes and releases methane into the atmosphere. This is a big deal, because methane is a super pollutant at least 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Fortunately, organic materials are easily recycled into beneficial products like compost, which enriches the nutrients and water-holding capacity of soils, and renewable natural gas, which can power vehicles without using fossil fuels.

    California Climate Investments: Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grants and Loans

    CalRecycle established the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grant and Loan Programs to provide financial incentives for capital investments in infrastructure designed to address climate change and other environmental goals. This includes aerobic composting, anaerobic digestion, and recycling and manufacturing facilities that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One priority is to realize environmental and economic benefits in disadvantaged and low-income communities. “Putting Cap-and-Trade Dollars to Work for California” highlights past projects and benefits to local communities.

    California is experiencing the effects of climate change with cycling droughts, reduced Sierra Nevada snowpack (which provides 60 percent of the state’s water), longer and more extreme fire seasons, and rising sea levels. CalRecycle is directing many efforts to reduce and reverse these dramatic changes to our climate. From regulating the management of materials to their highest and best use, to investing in the necessary infrastructure California needs to have a closed-loop recycling system, CalRecycle is making a significant difference with tangible actions to address climate change. But perhaps more than anything, we value our partnership with the people of California who play a vital role in recycling for climate by adopting the three Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Learn more about CalRecycle’s efforts to combat climate change at our Climate Change webpage.

    —Christina Files

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Jan 21, 2019