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

  • Recycling Matters More than Ever. Here's Why

    baby eating more food

    More. It’s one of baby’s first words and baby’s first wants. More milk. More food. More fun. More stuff.

    That primal pursuit of “more” typically grows with age. We buy. We collect. We throw away. In a state of nearly 40 million people this translates to a lot of waste. Californians send about 38 million tons of stuff to landfills each year.

    Recycling reversed our direction

    We used to landfill even more. Everything changed in the late 1980s when California collectively decided our children deserve a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable future.

    To lessen the impact of our throw-away culture on the environment, California passed the Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act in 1986 and the Integrated Waste Management Act in 1989. These bold actions led to more recycling and more jobs.

    Since that time:

    plastic in our oceans

    Recycling matters now more than ever

    Recently cynics have tried to dismiss the value of recycling because of changes in world recycling markets. But as we survey the damage caused by our single-use throwaway culture filling our rivers and oceans with plastic, Californians realize that recycling has become more important than ever.

    Many of us who grew up in the 1980s during California’s shift towards recycling now have families of our own. We want to do more for our environment and provide a healthy future for our children.

     

    baby boy eating

    1. We recycle so our children have quality food grown with compost, not chemicals.

    Organic waste makes up two-thirds of California’s disposal stream.

    Food waste, green waste, and other organic material can either:

    • Decompose in landfills, emitting methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide, or
    • Be recycled into new products, such as renewable energy or soil-healing compost to turn depleted dirt back into nutrient rich, water retaining, agriculturally productive soil – reducing the need for chemical pesticide and fertilizer use.

    Compost also adds living microbes to soil, which pull the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the air.

     

    boy smiling with clear blue sky behind him

    2. We recycle so our children have cleaner air to breath. 

    Manufacturing products from recycled materials requires less energy and results in fewer GHG emissions than  mining, refining, processing, and shipping raw materials to make new products, which results in less burning of fossil fuels.

    We can recycle organic waste into carbon-neutral biofuel to produce electricity, fuel, or renewable natural gas, further decreasing fossil fuel use and its environmental and health costs.

    boy running on clean beach

     

    3. We recycle to keep trash off our streets and out of our waterways and landfills.

    In 2018, California recycled 18.5 billion plastic, glass, aluminum, and bimetal beverage containers – the second highest number in the state history. Since passing its bottle bill, Californians have reduced litter and landfilling by recycling nearly 400 billion beverage containers.

    Thanks to the bottle bill, curbside recycling, and other waste reduction, reuse, and recycling efforts, California now recycles the equivalent of roughly one-third of the state’s annual landfill capacity each year, reducing the need for new or expanded garbage dumps. This means less air pollution, water pollution, land used and truck traffic. 

     

    boy climbing tree

    4. We recycle because our children deserve more trees to climb. 

    Preventing one ton of paper waste through recycling, reuse, or non-use saves between 15 and 17 mature trees, according to the US EPA.

    Producing paper from recycled pulp requires 40 percent less energy than using wood, further reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution.

    This savings translates to 4,200 kilowatt hours, 390 gallons of oil, 60 pounds of air pollution, and 7,000 gallons of water, according to MIT.

    boy dandelion

     

    5. We recycle to fight climate change and create a stronger economy.

    When we leave our trash at the curb, it’s efficiently taken away and we never have to think about it again. But we pay an unseen price.

    Trash rotting in landfills has real health and environmental impacts. Landfills are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. They add few jobs.

    As the effects of climate change lead to more wildfires, severe droughts, sea level rise, floods, and temperature extremes, our trash costs us more than money.

    In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, recycling and composting make good use of resources, while creating new industries and 10 times more jobs than landfilling.

    In poll after poll and election after election - Californians say they support bold action to protect the environment because they understand the stakes.

    Recycling gives us:

    1. Healthier food
    2. Cleaner air
    3. Less litter and pollution
    4. More air purifying trees
    5. Less climate changing gases

    Recycling matters more than ever because our children deserve nothing less.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Jan 6, 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

  • Still a Recycling Leader, California Recycles the Second-Highest Number of Bottles and Cans Ever

    kids recycling

    The U.S. EPA released new recycling statistics that illustrate that California remains a nationwide leader with a beverage container recycling rate year after year more than double the nation's average of 33%. Last year California recycled the second highest number of bottles and cans in the state's history.

    Despite the recent decline in aluminum scrap markets, Californians continued to show their commitment to recycling with: 

    • A 76 percent recycling rate, recycling 18.5 billion beverage containers in 2018. 
    • A slight increase in the recycling rate from a 75 percent beverage container recycling rate in 2017.
    • A continued high recycling rate in 2019, which is on track to recycle over 18 billion more CRV containers this year.

    The average beverage container recycling rate for all US states in 2017 was 33.1 percent.

    California’s 2017 beverage container recycling rate for all material types was 75 percent that year.  California recycles more bottles and cans than any other state.

    California is one of ten states with a beverage container deposit law (known as a Bottle Bill) to encourage beverage container recycling. The California Beverage Container Recycling and Littler Reduction Act was passed in 1986 to incentivize the recycling of plastic, glass, and aluminum bottles and cans. California recycles by far the largest number of beverage containers each year. We rank fourth in the nation in the percentage of beverage containers recycled, despite our unique challenges as the state with the highest population and the largest geographic area among the top ten states for beverage container recycling. We serve almost 40 million people with great geographic, cultural, and economic diversity.  

     

    State Population Recycling Rate (Beverage Containers) Recycling Volume
    (Beverage Containers)
    California 39.8 million 76% (2018) 18,588,304,236
    Connecticut 3.5 million 50% (2018) 725,034,130
    Hawaii 1.4 million 65% (2017) Not Publicly Listed
    Iowa 3.1 million 71% (2017) Not Publicly Listed
    Maine 1.3 million 84% (2017) Not Publicly Listed
    Massachusetts 6.9 million 57% (2017) Not Publicly Listed
    Michigan 9.9 million 91% (2017) Not Publicly Listed
    New York 19.5 million 66% (2016) 5,100,000,000
    Oregon 4.1 million 81% (2018) Not Publicly Listed
    Vermont 626,299 75% (2017) Not Publicly Listed
     

    Our department is working hard to ensure consumers have access to convenient recycling options and places to redeem their bottles and cans following the closing of rePlanet Recycling Centers, the largest recycling company in the state.

    CalRecycle has expedited certification for 66 new recycling centers. 

    California is on track to recycle more than 18 billion bottles and cans in 2019.

    More than 50 recycling centers have opened since August 2019.

    We will continue to work on multiple fronts to help more centers open in unserved areas, and to hold retailers accountable for their obligation to redeem CRV in areas not served by recycling centers.

    Learn more about California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program at calrecycle.ca.gov/BevContainer. In addition to finding recycling statistics, and detailed information on the California Beverage Container Recycling Fund, local funding opportunities for innovative new models of CRV redemption, you can also find the nearest CRV redemption opportunity in your area.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Dec 10, 2019