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

  • Fighting Climate Change by Feeding Those in Need

    Team Edible Launches California's First Edible Food Recovery Public Meeting 

     Picture of Kyle Pogue, Martine Boswell, Cara Morgan at a podium presenting.

    CalRecycle "Team Edible" – Kyle Pogue, Martine Boswell, and Cara Morgan

    This past Thursday, February 27, CalRecycle partnered with Yolo Food Bank for California’s very first SB 1383 edible food recovery public kick-off meeting, giving 100 leaders from food recovery organizations, edible food generators, and jurisdictions an in-depth look at how new edible food recovery mandates provide an opportunity to redirect unsold, edible food to Californians who need it most.

    Julie Trueblood

    Julie Trueblood from CalRecycle's Local Assistance and Management (LAMD) team, presented at the event.

    “There is so much food waste that is disposed of on a daily basis in California,” pointed out Martine Boswell, a CalRecycle environmental scientist who advises on food waste prevention, edible food recovery, and overall food waste management. “Edible food that is disposed is unnecessary and, in most cases, completely preventable.”

    Martine explained that while SB 1383, a bill with a goal to reduce short-lived climate pollutants in the atmosphere, has two organic waste disposal reduction targets, it also includes a goal: that 20 percent of edible food currently sent to landfills must be recovered for human consumption by 2025.

    This target provides an opportunity to sustainably fund infrastructure and capacity to help bring millions of pounds of edible food, which retailers have historically sent to landfills, to the one in eight Californians who are food insecure, often not knowing where or when they will get their next meal.

    The term "edible food" means food intended for human consumption. But it must also meet the food safety requirements of the California Retail Food Code. “Food safety is absolutely critical,” Martine assured the gathered stakeholders from Yolo County. 

    Matt Henigan presenting at the Yolo County Food Bank event

    CalRecycle Deputy Director Matt Henigan discussed the issues of climate change and hunger that SB 1383 addresses.

    “SB 1383 is the most wide-ranging and impactful solid waste legislation of the last 30 years,” CalRecycle Deputy Director Matt Henigan told the audience. “It requires a reduction of organic waste by 75 percent by 2025. It also requires a 20 percent edible food recovery goal…This is unique and groundbreaking for California.”

    “We’re very proud at CalRecycle to be a part of feeding hungry people,” Matt Henigan went on, addressing how short-lived climate pollutant bill SB 1383 gives his staff a chance to both help the environment and make a tangible difference to California’s one in five food insecure children.

    Explaining the reason CalRecycle was tasked with reducing organic waste disposal, Matt added that “Two-thirds of the waste stream is organic waste and food waste is the largest component of the waste stream. Landfilling organic waste emits methane, and 21 percent of methane emissions come from landfills. Methane is 70 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas global warming contributor, which has led to climate change impacts: fires, coastal erosion, and impacts on agriculture. Every 2.5 tons of food that’s diverted is the equivalent of taking one car off the road for a year. Reducing these emissions is by far the best investment we can make.” 

    Yolo County Health & Human Services Branch Manager Nolan Sullivan

    “One in five children in Yolo County is going to go to bed hungry tonight. What are we going to do about it?” Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency Service Centers Branch Manager Nolan Sullivan (pictured above) pointed out the opportunity to solve this significant, problem while working to reach SB 1383’s 20 percent edible food recovery targets.

    CalRecycle Organics Staff

    CalRecycle staff who took part in the event, from left to right:  Matt Henigan (MMLA), Joe Rasmussen (LAMD), Julie Trueblood (LAMD), Ashlee Yee (LAMD), Maria West (Public Affairs), Cara Morgan (LAMD), Tom Steel (Executive Fellow), Pinar Kose (LAMD), Alex Byrne (FiRM), Martine Boswell (STAR), Kyle Pogue (STAR), Sheina Meiners (FiRM), Jeffory McDaniel (LAMD), Ken Yee (LAMD), and John Duke (LAMD). 

    CalRecycle organics staff came together for this exciting event that the department sees as a model for many more food recovery collaboration launches throughout our state in the next year. Forging these connections will help jurisdictions, edible food generators, and food recovery organizations improve existing food recovery networks to ensure that edible food is diverted from landfills and put to its highest and best use of helping feed people in need.  

    Posted on In the Loop by Maria West on Mar 2, 2020

  • Eco Holiday Habits to Get on Santa's Nice List

    During the holidays many of us gather to share special meals, exchange gifts, and enjoy ourselves. As you prepare to host gatherings for your loved ones, consider how your celebrations create waste that contributes to climate change and adds to the growing amount of plastic in landfills. Are you being naughty or nice to the planet?

    Here are three ways to get on the planet’s Nice List this holiday season

    Naughty food waste; nice compost

    Naughty: Throwing Food in the Trash
    Nice: Lowering Food Waste with Meal Plans and Composting

    Meal Plan for Zero Food Waste

    Many of us consider lavish spreads of favorite holiday dishes the hallmark of a caring host. But excess food gives off high amounts of the potent greenhouse gas methane once it’s dumped in a landfill. This is a major cause of climate change.

    Rethink your hosting ideals, brand your gathering eco-friendly, then don’t overbuy or overcook.

    Use the food GUEST-IMATOR tool to plan how much to prepare. If there are leftovers you know you won’t finish, send food home with your guests in reusable containers.

    Clean your plate or compost the rest.

    Try composting your food waste. If your curbside organics collection doesn’t accept food, ask local community gardens if you can contribute to their compost bin.

    Consider setting up your own home compost. It can help grow healthier, heartier plants. Winter is the ideal time to start compost that will be ready to add to your garden in the spring.

    Easy tips for starting to compost

    naughty: single use disposable plastic. Nice: reusable dishes.

    Naughty: Single-Use Plastic
    Nice: Reusable Dishes and Utensils

    “Disposable” Plastic Lasts Forever

    Many hosts choose the ease of disposable plates, cutlery, and cups for holiday gatherings. But that plastic your guests use for just a few minutes will never biodegrade. It stays on the planet, slowly breaking down into toxic microplastics.

    About 10 percent of all trash is plastic. Forty million Californians create more than 3.2 million tons of plastic waste every year.

    Reusable plates and cutlery give the gift of a cleaner planet. Less trash in landfills is worth a few extra minutes of cleanup.

    Naughty: dirty recyclables; nice: clean recyclables

    Naughty: Dirty Recyclables
    Nice: Clean Recyclables 

    Rinse Containers Before Recycling

    Recyclables tainted with food or water can leak onto surrounding paper and cardboard, and create a contaminated, unrecyclable mess. In 2018 China stopped accepting certain US mixed recyclable shipments because many arrived full of mold and had to be thrown away in landfills.

    Clean your containers to keep recycling from becoming garbage. 

    Not sure about that greasy pizza box? Tear off the oily parts and toss those in the trash. The remaining clean cardboard can go in your blue bin.

    Check out this quick video on recycling contamination.

    With a few small changes, you can make a difference for the planet even as you enjoy this festive season. Get more eco-friendly holiday hints to use this year.

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Dec 23, 2019

  • Composting Recalled Lettuce from E. Coli Outbreak

     

    Lettuce growing in compost

     

    Following a nationwide E. coli outbreak, recalled lettuce grown throughout the Salinas Valley is making its way back into the ground as compost, thanks to a California Climate Investment from CalRecycle. A new composting facility in Salinas has already started accepting more than 50 tons of the of the potentially tainted produce, according to the Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority (Salinas Authority).

    “It’s stretching our daily processing capacity,” Salinas Authority General Manager Patrick Mathews told United Press International. “It’s coming in by the truckloads.”

    E. coli Outbreak Linked to Lettuce

    In November, the Centers for Disease Control warned consumers not to eat romaine lettuce grown in California’s Salinas Valley after an E. coli outbreak sickened nearly 70 people in 19 states. The CDC, the Food and Drug Administration, and health authorities from various states continue to investigate the exact source of the strain while encouraging residents, restaurants, retailers, suppliers, and distributors to remove the product from their refrigerators, shelves, and distribution chains.

    When sent to landfills, lettuce and other organic waste decomposes and generates methane, a short-lived climate pollutant 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane is emitted when organic material is buried and decomposes anaerobically, or without oxygen. The U.S. Composting Coalition encourages consumers and businesses to compost the recalled produce instead. The aeration of material in the composting process results in a different chemical reaction, producing far less damaging emissions.

    “Industrial-scale composting … achieves the temperatures and holding times to eliminate human pathogens (like E. coli),” notes U.S. Composting Coalition Executive Director Frank Franciosi. “While you don't want to eat the romaine lettuce, there is no reason to put it in a landfill where it will generate methane, a significant greenhouse gas, and cause global climate change.”

    CalRecycle’s Climate Change Funds for Composting
    Reduce Greenhouse Gases in the Air

    Salinas Compost Facility

     

    With the help of a recent $1.3 million California Climate Investment grant awarded by CalRecycle, the Salinas Authority constructed an aerated static pile compost facility at the Johnson Canyon landfill in Monterey County. Formerly, wood and green materials were chipped at a landfill and shipped as mulch or to a biofuel facility, while food was disposed of in the landfill. The Salinas Authority built its new, fully permitted composting facility this summer. In the fall it began turning green materials and food into compost. The Salinas Authority estimated it would compost 132,000 tons of food and green waste by 2026.

    Compost increases soil carbon content and increases its moisture-holding capacity, enabling it to literally pull CO2 out of the air. California law mandates composting facilities process materials at temperatures high enough to kill E. coli and other pathogens.

    Funding Available for Organic Waste Recycling

     

    Salinas Compost Facility under construction

     

    CalRecycle’s Organics Grant 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 human health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities.

    Learn more about CalRecycle’s funding opportunities at calrecycle.ca.gov/funding. You can also subscribe to CalRecycle’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grant and Loan Programs Listserv.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Dec 5, 2019