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

  • Environmental Justice: Inclusive Decision-Making

    On the drive from Sacramento to Lamont through the San Joaquin Valley on Highway 99, we passed rows upon rows of produce and concrete jungles amid the visible air pollution haze. Last month I traveled with Team Environmental Justice member Julia Dolloff and Maria Salinas, CalRecycle’s Environmental Justice Manager to Lamont, a community just outside of Bakersfield. We were there to present to community members about CalRecycle’s Environmental Justice Program, SB 1383 regulations and the estimated 50 to 100 new large-scale organic waste facilities that will be built in the state as a result, and how to participate in the formal rulemaking process. Visiting an underrepresented community always accentuates the importance of our work to protect all Californians from environmental harm.

    This underlying principle is why the SB 1383 regulations have incorporated community input. For example, the draft regulations allow for the use of community composting operations in jurisdictions to help manage organic waste. In addition, when jurisdictions plan for their organic waste capacity, they must conduct community outreach for new or expanded facilities, seek feedback on benefits and impacts, and consult with community composting operations.

    In light of the impact implementing SB 1383  (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016) will have on the state, staff recently created the Environmental Justice Compost Facilities Map, which overlays existing organics recycling facilities with CalEnviroScreen 3.0, a tool that identifies communities disproportionately burdened by multiple sources of pollution. Identifying facility locations increases transparency and empowers communities to participate in the decision-making process with full knowledge of facility permits, inspections, and enforcement actions.

    Lamont community meeting with CalRecycle staff, Kern County employees, and community members, and Enviroscreen map

    Left: CalRecycle staff members, Kern County employees, and Lamont community members met to discuss environmental justice issues. Right: On CalEnviroScreen 3.0, Lamont is in the top third most burdened percentile and surrounded on all sides by the 90th percentile. Three facilities are located in the nearby vicinity. 

    The Lamont community meeting incorporated environmental justice community engagement best practices by holding the event in their community in the evening after typical work hours and providing interpretation services. Not everyone spoke English but with interpretive services, we were able to discuss their personal experiences with pollution, food waste, and waste collection services. For example, one community member noted that many Lamont residents speak different Spanish dialects, which makes it difficult for residents to understand even Spanish translated materials, but that graphic bin labels can transcend the language barrier.

    At the meeting, Gustavo Aguirre talked about his efforts to create a community benefits agreement with the nearby Recology composting facility. The agreement commits Recology to create an odor minimization plan, implement air pollution mitigation measures, and invest yearly in community benefiting projects. At our meeting, multiple people chimed in that this approach was successful for both Recology and their community.  

    Staff from Kern County’s local enforcement agency and other county government officials also attended the meeting. This allowed for a dialogue between the local officials and community members. One exciting moment was when a Kern County employee talked about the Waste Hunger Not Food pilot project. The pilot project implements the food rescue element of SB 1383 regulations by distributing edible, surplus food from restaurants, schools, and markets.

    This community meeting demonstrated the importance of information sharing and solution-building with all involved parties. The conversation was richer because there were representatives from the state, the county, and the community. Getting people historically and systematically disadvantaged in the room and at the table is what environmental justice seeks to accomplish.

    ---Ciaran Gallagher, CalRecycle Capital Fellow

    Posted on In the Loop by Ciaran Gallagher, CalRecycle Capital Fellow on May 6, 2019

  • Compost: Good for the Garden, Good for the Planet

    It’s been winter for a long, long time, and we can’t help but fantasize about spring. While you’re sketching out your backyard garden plans and scoping out the seed aisle at your local garden center, you might also consider starting a compost pile. See our quick video for a few good reasons to compost, as well as some basic instructions. 

     

    If you’d like even more information, here’s a  step-by-step primer, with links to our composting pages, and some  composting tools you might find handy. Start now and you could have a batch in time for spring planting!

    Posted on In the Loop by CalRecycle Staff on Feb 25, 2019

  • California Ramps Up Green Waste Recycling

    Get ready! California is gearing up to implement a new recycling program to combat climate change. Starting in 2022, cities and counties in California will be required to provide organics recycling collection services to all residents and businesses, which is a significant step toward combating the effects of climate change in California. Then- Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395 , Statutes of 2016) into law in 2016, establishing targets to achieve a 50 percent reduction in the level of statewide organics disposal by 2020 and a 75 percent reduction by 2025. The bill establishes an additional target that not less than 20 percent of currently disposed edible food be recovered for human consumption by 2025. Even though SB 1383 regulations do not go into effect until 2022, local jurisdictions are working with haulers and preparing to collect more organic waste from businesses and homeowners.

    California generates about 23 million tons of organic waste every year, and 5 to 6 million tons of that is food waste.

    When we landfill any recyclable material, it negatively affects our environment by requiring that we acquire raw virgin materials (like oil to make plastic or trees to make paper). Organic waste has an additional negative impact on California’s environment: When landfilled, organic waste emits methane gas. Methane is a climate-altering greenhouse gas with an impact on our atmosphere 70 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20-year horizon. In other words, landfilling our yard and food waste directly contributes to climate change in California, leading to increased air pollution and corresponding health concerns like asthma, drier forests that burn in wildfires more easily, cyclical droughts, and coastline erosion due to rising seas.

    Fortunately, organic waste can be recycled into beneficial products like compost, a powerful soil amendment, and renewable natural gas, an environmentally preferable alternative to fossil fuel. California compost is used by California farmers to increase the nutrients, water-holding capacity, and carbon content in soil, which helps grow stronger, healthier crops. Many cities throughout the state use RNG to power their public buses and city vehicle fleets.

    SB 1383 will provide many benefits to California. The statewide organics recycling program will create new recycling and manufacturing jobs. It will also help Californians save millions in health care costs each year by improving air quality and decreasing health impacts, such as premature deaths and hospital visits—especially for sensitive groups such as children, the elderly, and people with chronic heart or lung disease.

    SB 1383 will also benefit our most vulnerable citizens. California’s growing edible food recovery network will capture food to help the 1 in 8 Californians, 1 in 2 UC students, and 1 in 5 California children who are food-insecure.

    SB 1383 is coming, and it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening our economy, and improving public health and the environment. You can learn more about SB 1383 on our Short-Lived Climate Pollutants webpage. You can learn more about organics recycling on our Recycle Organics webpage.

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Feb 11, 2019