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

  • CalRecycle Grant Funds Yolo County Slough Cleanup

    A rural area in Yolo County that has proven to be both a haven for songbirds and a target for illegal dumping is getting cleaned up with funding from CalRecycle.

    Landowners worked with the Yolo County Resource Conservation District to apply for a grant to clean up illegally dumped material, including garbage, appliances, and an estimated 250 to 500 waste tires, along a 15-acre section of Babel Slough. CalRecycle awarded the conservation district a $50,000 Farm and Ranch Cleanup and Abatement Grant for the project.

    Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps workers pull a large bag of garbage up an embankment at Babel Slough.

    Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps workers pull a large bag of garbage up an embankment at Babel Slough.

    The farm and ranch grant program plays a vital role in protecting human health and the environment. This portion of Babel Slough winds through active farmland, and farmers use the water to irrigate adjacent fields. Local farmers and ranchers pick up waste along the banks and roadways on a weekly basis and dispose of it legally, but they sought help for the material that required special equipment and a more concerted effort, including tires and appliances partially sunken in mud at the bottom of steep embankments. The resource conservation district joined forces with the Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps, which has conducted similar cleanups, for the project.

    After several hours, conservation corps workers had pulled piles of trash, including tires and appliances, from the water, and put them in piles along Babel Slough Road for removal. The piles lined the road for more than half a mile.

    In 2018, another stretch of the slough was cleaned up with a previous grant from CalRecycle. The conservation district intends to apply for a third grant for the final stretch in an upcoming grant cycle. Grants are limited to $50,000 per cleanup or abatement project, with a limit of $200,000 per year.

    While the project will result in cleaner irrigation water for the nearby agricultural fields, it will also provide a healthier habitat for the plants and animals that live there, including tree swallows, bay-breasted warblers, black-chinned sparrows, and American redstarts.

    Left: Workers bag illegally dumped material at the bottom of the slough. Right: Debris is piled at the side of Babel Slough Road for removal.

    Left: Workers bag illegally dumped material at the bottom of the slough. Right: Debris is piled at the side of Babel Slough Road for removal. 

    For more information, including how to apply for a grant, see our Farm and Ranch Solid Waste Cleanup and Abatement Grant Program webpage.

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Jan 17, 2019

  • New State Laws Affecting CalRecycle--and You

    CalRecycle staff has been busy preparing to meet the department’s new statutory responsibilities. Here are the top new laws that CalRecycle will be helping to implement.

    Sharps and Pharmaceuticals EPR Program

    SB 212 (Jackson, Chapter 1004, Statutes of 2018) establishes the nation’s first extended producer responsibility program for sharps and pharmaceuticals. Much like CalRecycle’s current stewardship programs for paint, mattresses, and carpet, responsibility will be placed on manufacturers to participate through stewardship organizations (likely at least one for pharmaceuticals and one for sharps) to design, fund, and implement a take-back program for their products. CalRecycle will have oversight and enforcement responsibilities, which will require coordination with the Board of Pharmacy and possibly other state agencies. 

    Recyclable Food Service Packaging

    SB 1335 (Allen, Chapter 610, Statutes of 2018) requires vendors at all state agencies, facilities, and properties to use food service packaging that is reusable, recyclable, or compostable. SB 1335 authorizes CalRecycle to define “reusability,” “recyclability,” and “compostability” in the regulations, which take effect Jan. 1, 2021.

    Increased Compost Use in California

    AB 2411 (McCarty, Chapter 238, Statutes of 2018) adds to the provisions of the 1989 Compost Market Program by requiring CalRecycle to develop a plan to increase compost use for slope stabilization and for establishing vegetation during its wildfire debris cleanup efforts. It also requires CalRecycle to work with Caltrans to identify and implement best practices for cost-effective compost use along California highways. CalRecycle must review these best practices every five years and update them as needed.

    Recycling Center Reverse Vending Machines

    AB 2493 (Bloom, Chapter 715, Statutes of 2018) extends more flexibility related to the operation of reverse vending machines in California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program. Key changes address requirements for hours of operation and staffing hours, among others.

    Environmental Education

    SB 720 (Allen, Chapter 374, Statutes of 2018) reaffirms the state’s commitment to environmental education. It also directs that climate change be incorporated into the Environmental Principles and Concepts, which are the foundation for CalRecycle’s Education and the Environment Initiative curriculum.

    Lithium-Ion Battery Advisory Group

    AB 2832 (Dahle, Chapter 822, Statutes of 2018) requires CalEPA to convene an advisory group to review and advise the Legislature on policies related to the recovery and recycling of lithium-ion batteries sold in electric cars in California. The advisory group, which includes CalRecycle, must submit policy recommendations to the Legislature that help ensure most lithium-ion batteries in California are reused or recycled at the end of their useful life.

    Food Recovery: California Climate Investments

    AB 1933 (Maienschein, Chapter 808, Statutes of 2018) makes clear that the recovery of food for human consumption is an acceptable form of organic waste diversion eligible for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund grants and loans. In addition to providing clear authority for CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program, the law also broadens the scope of projects eligible for CalRecycle climate investments. 

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Dec 31, 2018

  • Wildfires Create New Danger: Hazardous Debris

    The latest wildfires in California have left more than 80 people dead, 161,000 acres burned, and more than 10,000 homes and structures destroyed. But as changing weather patterns and the tireless work of firefighters help boost containment lines, communities devastated by the fires now face potential health risks associated with the improper handling of fire debris. 

    Returning residents should avoid extensive sweeping or sifting through ash or debris before cleanup by designated agencies begins. Exposure to ash, soot, and other hazardous material left in the wake of wildfires can cause serious and potentially deadly health problems.

    Camp Fire aftermath

    Fire ash contains tiny particles of dust, dirt, and soot that can be inhaled if the ash becomes airborne. These particles could contain trace amounts of metals like lead, cadmium, nickel and arsenic; asbestos from older homes or other buildings; perfluorochemicals (from degradation of non-stick cookware, for example); flame retardants; and caustic materials. In addition to irritating your skin, nose, and throat, substances like asbestos, nickel, arsenic, and cadmium have been known to cause cancer. 

    • Experts say it’s best to avoid any activity that disturbs the debris or kicks ash and associated chemicals into the air.
    • Those working directly with wildfire debris are advised to wear gloves, long shirts and pants, and other clothing to help prevent skin contact.
    • It’s best to change shoes and clothing once off-site to avoid contaminating other areas.
    • Masks certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are also recommended when exposure to wildfire dust or ash can’t be avoided.

    CalEPA recommends NIOSH-certified air-purifying respirator masks, which can be found at most hardware stores. A mask rated N-95 is much more effective than simpler dust or surgical masks in blocking particles from ash. Although smaller sized masks may appear to fit a child’s face, none of the manufacturers recommend their use for children. If children are in an area that warrants wearing a mask, they should be moved to an environment with cleaner air.

    Safe sifting through your property will NOT jeopardize your claims for disaster assistance. However, property owners are advised against initiating actual cleanup activities or significantly disturbing the debris by moving it to other areas. Expanding the ash footprint on the property creates additional safety hazards and expenses during the cleanup process. Contact your local officials for further guidance on these activities.

    Learn more about CalRecycle's role in wildfire recovery efforts.

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Nov 28, 2018