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

  • Fall Into Composting

    Dry leaves, twigs, paper, and branches are powerful sources of carbon for compost piles.

     

    Autumn is finally here, and the leaves are beginning to change colors. Pretty soon, people will be raking bright orange and yellow leaves from their lawns. It’s the perfect time of year to start composting – if you start now, you’ll have finished compost in time for your spring garden and flower beds.

    Compost is an organic material made from recycled green and brown materials (like landscape trimmings and branches). Pile these up in a mound or toss them into a compost drum barrel, and pretty soon you will have a robust soil amendment for your garden. You can find more information on our website about home composting.

    Compost has many benefits for homeowners. It retains soil moisture, which is especially helpful during the summer. It keeps weed growth down, which makes gardening much easier. Compost also provides nutrients to the soil, reducing the need for fertilizers. It even adds carbon to the soil, which directly combats climate change.

    Check out our Compost: Getting Started video for more information.

    YouTube video. Compost: Getting Started
    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Oct 17, 2019

  • New Law Bans Hotels from Providing Personal Care Products in Small Plastic Bottles

    We’ve all seen and sometimes used them: those tiny plastic bottles of personal care products that hotels provide to guests. Although many of us have forsaken the novelty of these tiny bottles by bringing along our favorite care products when we travel, they have persisted on hotel bathroom sinks throughout the world. Thanks to a recently signed law, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals in California will be prohibited from providing these to their guests starting in 2023.

    California has a big problem with plastic and packaging. Packaging alone accounts for about 25 percent of the trash we generate throughout the state. And it’s hard to forget the garbage patches in our oceans. In 2011, California set a goal to recycle 75 percent of our waste, which requires that we look at ways to make recycling more convenient for consumers and ways to reduce the amount of plastic and packaging that is available in the marketplace by replacing them with reusable or eco-friendly options. 

    In support of this large waste reduction goal, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 1162 (Kalra, Chapter 687, Statutes of 2019) into law, which prohibits hotels and other lodging establishments from providing personal care products like shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion in small plastic bottles. The law defines “small bottles” as those containing less than 6 ounces of liquid that are not intended to be reusable. 

    AB 1162, like many waste management and recycling laws, establishes a phased-in approach. The law requires large establishments with more than 50 rooms to remove these products in 2023. The following year, smaller establishments with fewer rooms will have to follow suit. 

    Laws like this may seem trivial, but they make a significant difference in waste reduction. Before California’s plastic bag ban went into effect in 2017, plastic bags comprised 8 to 10 percent of litter collected along California’s coastal areas. After the ban was implemented, the percentage dropped to 3.87 percent. Every little bit helps in protecting the health of Californians and the environment. 

     

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

  • What Is Recyclable?

    Wait, aren’t all products with the recycling chasing arrows symbol recyclable? Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. First, there is currently no universal definition for recyclable. Second, individual materials in a product may be recyclable, but they may be fused together in such a way that it’s difficult to separate them into individual recyclable materials. Plastic-coated coffee cups, electronics, and padded envelopes are good examples of this. Third, even though a product may technically be recyclable, there must be a market for that material. In other words, a product’s recyclability has as much to do with the economy as the technology of recycling. Let’s break down the recycling economy for insight. 

    Collection

    The first step in the recycling process is to collect the material. Californians can sort their recyclables into a curbside recycling bin, or they may opt to take some materials to a recycling center. Dirty or broken material may not be eligible to be processed into feedstock, so be sure to add only clean items to your recycling bin. And check with your local hauler to see what materials they are collecting to recycle before putting items in your curbside recycling bin. 

    Sorting and Processing into Feedstock for Manufacturers

    Next, a recycling center sells the material to a recycling processor who transforms the material into feedstock for a new product. In the case of plastic water bottles, the plastic is shredded into plastic flakes. 

    California has historically relied on a “collect, sort, export” model of recycling. Fluctuations in the global commodities market often impact California’s ability to export these materials for recycling. Despite these fluctuations, California exported more recyclables last year than in previous years. Even so, it’s pretty clear that California must continue investing in a robust domestic recycling infrastructure so we are not so reliant on foreign markets to process recyclables and remanufacture products.

    Recycling Feedstock into New Products

    Recycling processors then sell feedstock to manufacturers who use the material to manufacture new products. These products are called “recycled-content products.” It is difficult for recycled feedstock to compete in the marketplace if the price of virgin materials is cheaper. Although low oil prices mean low gas prices, they also mean it’s cheaper to make a plastic bottle from virgin materials than recycled plastic water bottle flakes. 

    CalRecycle is about to start developing regulations for SB 1335 (Allen, Chapter 610, Statutes of 2018), which requires food service facilities located in state-owned buildings to use reusable, recyclable, or compostable food service packaging. Laws like SB 1335 will not only help define what is actually recyclable, but will also create a market demand for reusable, recyclable, and compostable products.

    Marketing and Selling Recycled Content Products

    In the final step of the recycling economy, manufacturers sell recycled-content products to distributors and retailers who then sell these products to the public. One of the ways CalRecycle helps this effort is by overseeing the state’s Buy-Recycled Campaign, which requires all state agencies to purchased recycled-content products. In addition to creating a market demand for recycled-content products, the program also creates new jobs; reduces waste, pollution, and energy consumption; and diverts waste from landfills.

    Ways to Support the Recycling Economy

    • All Californians can support the recycling economy in a few simple ways. 
    • Consider ways to reduce the amount of trash you throw away every week. Can you make changes in how you shop or consume goods that would reduce your personal waste? That may look like using a reusable coffee cup or opting for products with less packaging.
    • Check with your waste hauler to learn about what recyclable materials are allowed in your recycling bin.  Haulers will let you know what they are collecting that can be sold to recycling processors.
    • Add clean recyclables to your curbside bin to reduce contamination. Rinsing out spaghetti sauce and peanut butter jars before adding them to the recycling bin can go a long way in reducing contamination.
    • Buy recycled-content products. Look for products that use recycled-content in them. CalRecycle’s website has a search tool to look for recycled-content manufacturers. 


     
    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Oct 10, 2019