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

  • California Pursues Shared Effort to Confront New Recycling Challenges

    Recycling Industry, Experts Explore California Solutions to Global Market Disruption

    The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery joined California waste haulers, recyclers, manufacturers, local leaders, and advocacy groups in Sacramento to help advance statewide discussions on the future of waste reduction and recycling in California. Recent import restrictions from China, coupled with a decline in the global market value of recyclable commodities, have resulted in significant challenges for California businesses, local governments, and consumers.

    CalRecycle organized its “Recycling Globally: California’s Role in Adapting to a New Market Climate” workshop on June 4 to share information regarding changes in international recycling markets, examine how those changes are affecting recycling efforts in California, and discuss the shared responsibility of the state’s public and private sectors to:

    • Reduce the amount of waste generated in the state
    • Build and support recycling markets and infrastructure within California

    “CalRecycle is here to listen, learn, and provide an effective clearinghouse for information as we work together to navigate this rapidly changing situation,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said. “I’ve heard National Sword described as everything from a crisis to a temporary market condition. I don’t think it matters so much how we name it, but (the disruption) is real, and the impacts are unknown in scope, magnitude, and duration.”

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    The dialogue featured three panel discussions, in addition to questions and comments from the public and various stakeholders who attended the workshop at CalEPA headquarters in Sacramento or who followed the discussion online. A recording of the full workshop is posted here.

    The first panel discussion was titled “Updates on the Current State of Recyclable Commodities.” The panelists were Adina Renee Adler from the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries; Pete Keller from Republic Services; and William Winchester from Berg Mill Supply.

    “There is not enough capacity globally today to consume what’s been displaced by China,” Keller said. “Twenty-five million tons of fiber is looking for a home. That capacity may come online, but it’s not coming online next month or even probably next year.”

    “There are always potential surprises around the corner,” Adler said, “but I do think the new market dynamic (for recycled materials) is here to stay.”

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    The second panel addressed “Short-Term Challenges and Opportunities.” Panelists included Tom Padia from StopWaste; Joseph Kalpakoff from Mid Valley Disposal; Michael Lee from City of Los Angeles/LA Sanitation; and Eric Oddo of the Western Placer Waste Management Authority.

    “Single-stream collection (sorting) technology, coupled with China’s historically strong appetite for recyclables and lax (contamination) specifications, created the false belief that everything is recyclable,” said Tom Padia of StopWaste. “Everything isn’t recyclable, and it never was.”

    The workshop concluded with a final discussion titled “Looking Down the Road.” Panelists were Chris Coady from Recycling Partnership; Greg Rodrigues from EcoLogic; Saskia van Gendt with Method Products, and Mark Murray from Californians Against Waste

    Coady urged continued efforts at public education about recycling.

    “The fact is, these programs need to be maintained and public education has to be ongoing,” he said. “It’s not just about educating residents. It’s also educating public officials and keeping everyone aware.”

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    “It is individual products and individual materials that are creating this contamination problem,” Murray said. “In order for us to solve this problem, we’re going to have to make sure that each material manufacturer and each product manufacturer take responsibility for the environmental externalities of their products.”

    As part of CalRecycle’s ongoing commitment to move this dialogue forward, the department developed an online resource for stakeholders to track new international market developments and to share information about innovative local solutions employed by jurisdictions and businesses throughout the state.

    Users can also find guidance related to temporary storage of processed recyclable material, financial assistance programs for California recycling businesses, and CalRecycle’s latest policy reform efforts to reduce excessive packaging waste and combat contamination in our recycling streams.


    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Jun 14, 2018

  • New California Climate Investment Serves Up Benefits for Butte County

    There is an unmistakable buzz on the streets of Butte County. The Northern California agricultural region, already well known for its orchards and farms, its tight-knit communities, and its commitment to sustainability just added a new attraction to its community profile.

    Welcome to California’s newest hub in the state’s battle against climate change.

    “You can see the enthusiasm around town. People are stunned and excited about this opportunity,” Laura Cootsona says before sharing her own reaction to news of a half-million dollar California Climate Investment. “I actually jumped up and down for days.”

    Cootsona is a Butte County resident and executive director of the Jesus Center in downtown Chico. For more than 30 years, the humanitarian nonprofit has offered meals, resources and other services to those struggling in and around Butte County. Now, with the help of a $499,789 California Climate Investment, the center is launching one of its boldest efforts yet to combat hunger—and climate change—by rescuing food for the hungry before it becomes waste.

    Californians throw away an estimated 6 million tons of food each year. When it decomposes in landfills, food and other organic material emits methane, a super pollutant responsible for roughly 20 percent of current global warming and 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).

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    The Jesus Center operates a farm in Butte County and plans to begin a second farm soon to help provide fresh produce to neighbors in need.

    In partnership with the Community Action Agency of Butte County, which includes the North State Food Bank, the Jesus Center will use the nearly half-million dollar Food Waste Prevention and Rescue grant to increase its ability to collect, transport, store, and distribute more food in and around Butte County.

    “What I love about this project is it allows us to do a ton of social good and environmental good at the same time,” Cootsona says. “This is going to change our community in a lot of serious ways.”

    CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue grant program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative 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.

    “The physical body gets so broken down when you’re confronting the daily realities of poverty,” Cootsona says, noting food insecurity impacts roughly 1 in every 5 Butte County residents. Statewide, about 1 in 8 Californians are considered food-insecure. She adds, “Hunger should not be this prevalent in a state and in a region that produces so much of our nation’s food.”

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    The fruits and vegetables grown at the Jesus Center farm are used in meals at the Center’s kitchen in Chico. The farm also provides vocational opportunities related to food waste prevention and rescue work.

    In 2017, the Jesus Center prepared and plated more than 101,000 meals through its kitchen, shelter, and six transitional houses in and around Chico. Cootsona expects that number to keep rising as grant funding enables the Center to hire new staff, purchase new equipment—including a refrigerated truck and a new commercial kitchen—and upgrade its logistics software to better track food inventory and coordinate donations and deliveries.

    “With this new software, farmers, grocery stores, restaurants, schools, and other community partners can go online and notify us about new donations,” Cootsona says. “Depending on the food type, we’ll be able to immediately determine whether it should come to our kitchen in Chico or whether it can be better utilized by one of our 50 partner agencies within the North State Food Bank or in the Wildcat Food Pantry at Chico State.”

    Food that can’t be diverted to meals or distributed through the food banks will be composted at the Jesus Center farm or other partnering locations to make sure the organic material doesn’t wind up emitting greenhouse gases at area landfills.

    “Let’s get food that is designed to be consumed, eaten. Not into landfills.” Cootsona continues, “Composting is a great alternative to landfills, but we want the food in bellies first.”

    The center’s new project also includes money dedicated to vocational training in food waste prevention and recovery, further increasing the long-term benefits that will remain long after the grant funds run out.

    “We’re integrating this new technology and these new systems into our regular operations so these benefits will remain sustainable long-term,” Cootsona says, ensuring the Center can build on its decades-long history of preventing food waste, protecting the planet, and saving lives for decades to come.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on May 21, 2018

  • CalRecycle’s Green Glossary

    Environmental Acronyms You May Not Know, but Should

    MRF, GHG, EPR, CRV, and HHW—while these acronyms read like an environmentalist’s alphabet soup, they have important meanings. Since environmental issues affect all of us, it’s important that we know what they mean. Here’s a list of acronyms and their meanings.

    CRV: California Redemption Value

    The 5- or 10-cent “deposit” made when purchasing an eligible beverage container. Once eligible containers are returned to a certified recycling center, the customer receives his or her “deposit” back. Make sure not to cross state lines with the intention of collecting CRV in California if you bought beverage containers in another state—it’s illegal!

    EJ: Environmental Justice

    Environmental Justice means the fair treatment and equitable protection from environmental harm and fair access to environmental benefits, regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, race, income, or location. Socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods are historically and disproportionately affected by environmental harm. CalRecycle reaches out to communities and has a number of programs that work to protect disadvantaged neighborhoods from poor environmental conditions.

    EPP: Environmentally Preferable Purchasing

    Purchasing of goods and services while taking into consideration the environment and public health. These considerations may include distance traveled to distribute the product, energy used to create the product, amount of packaging considered to be excessive, and the product’s durability and recyclability, which could cut down on disposal.

    EPR:   Extended Producer Responsibility

    The concept that manufacturers should be responsible for their product, or its remains, after it reaches the end of its useful life. For example, with extended producer responsibility you might be able to return used batteries so their manufacturer can dispose of them properly, or the packaging material used to ship a product, so the company can reuse it. Rather than relying solely on efforts to recycle our discards, EPR places responsibility on manufacturers to find innovative ways to reduce their waste. Read about EPR programs for carpetpaint, and mattresses in California.

    GHG:  Greenhouse Gas

    Greenhouse gases are gases that absorb and emit energy from the sun and get trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere. The most common greenhouse gases are water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane. Greenhouse gases can be produced as a result of human activities like driving, farming, and organic waste decomposition.

    HHW:  Household Hazardous Waste

    Some items we use in our everyday lives, such as paint and motor oil, contain potentially hazardous materials that require special care when disposed. They’re not necessarily dangerous, but if spilled, broken, and/or disposed of improperly, they can contaminate the soil, water, and/or air in the surrounding environment.

    MCR:  Mandatory Commercial Recycling

    In order to reduce GHG emissions (aren’t you glad you know what those are now?), businesses that make 4 cubic yards of waste or more per week (about the size of a standard dumpster) are required by law to recycle it by composting, reusing, or recycling.

    MORe: Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling

    Similar to MCR regulations, Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling refers to the requirements for businesses in California to recycle organic waste, or waste that is plant-or animal-based e.g. food, yard/garden waste, wood, paper, etc. Organic waste makes up more than a third of California’s waste stream, which decomposes in landfills creating GHG emissions that contribute to climate change. However, organics can be kept out of landfills and recycled into nutrient-rich compost instead.

    MRF: Materials Recovery Facility

    Pronounced “murf,” a materials recovery facility receives and sorts recyclable materials to sell to processors. MRFs can utilize a combination of manual and mechanical labor to sort materials. There are two types of MRFs: “dirty” and “clean.” Dirty MRFs sort through solid waste, e.g., your trash can, to recover any materials that might be recyclable. Clean MRFs sort through recyclables that have already been pre-separated from trash, usually by the consumer who has a curbside recycling bin.

    RAC: Rubberized Asphalt Concrete

    RAC is a road paving material made by blending ground-up recycled tires with asphalt to   produce a binder, which is then mixed with conventional aggregate materials. It’s cost-effective, durable, safe, and quiet, besides being an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional road paving materials.

    TDA: Tire-Derived Aggregate

    A form of shredded scrap tires used for civil engineering projects like retaining walls and drainage systems. Since California alone generates more than 40 million waste tires, TDA is a constructive way to recycle tires that would otherwise end up in landfills or become fire and health hazards if disposed of improperly.

    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on May 7, 2018