Environmental Justice

Children sitting on a bench

Everyone deserves environmental protection. Everyone deserves a safe and healthy place in which to work, live, play, and learn. Historically, certain groups—particularly low-income and communities of color—have not always been afforded fair and meaningful participation in the decision-making process.

CalRecycle’s Environmental Justice program works to ensure every Californian enjoys equitable protection from environmental harm, regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, race, income, or location. Through authentic and consistent engagement, CalRecycle is better able to understand community needs, provide equitable access to resources, confront barriers to progress, and incorporate diverse perspectives into department programs and policies.

For more information, see CalRecycle’s Environmental Justice Principles.

Environmental Justice Logo

Program News...

Value-Based Communication for Sustainability and Social Justice Initiatives (Video)
Learn how to incorporate value-driven communication in your work to promote equitable and healthy California communities. YouTube (1:59:09) | Transcript

Principles of Environmental Justice

What Is CalRecycle’s Environmental Justice Program?

CalRecycle’s Environmental Justice program benefits all Californians while supporting a healthy environment and economy. The purpose of our program is to ensure environmental justice concepts, values, and objectives are thoroughly implemented within CalRecycle programmatic activities. It is therefore important for us to learn about communities and to share information about CalRecycle resources such as grants and loans, actions such as permits, and programs like solid waste cleanup, electronic waste recycling, the beverage container recycling program, and others. CalRecycle is committed to including individuals, communities, and regulated businesses in the decision-making process.

What Is Environmental Justice?

For our purposes, “environmental justice” means the fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and in-comes regarding the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

Why Is Environmental Justice Important?

CalRecycle recognizes the varied cultural strengths in California, and we acknowledge the different communication, environmental health, and economic needs within the state, including those of Native Americans and disadvantaged communities. We understand barriers, such as complex government processes and limited English language skills, may hinder full participation in important environmental programs. We also recognize that many Californians live in the midst of multiple sources of pollution, and some people and communities are more vulnerable to the effects of pollution than others.

Overall Improvements

  • Increase protection of public health and safety, and the environment, within disadvantaged communities.
  • Expand our awareness of, and services to, Californian’s varied cultures.
  • Address language barriers to best serve communities.
  • Ensure our vision for solid waste recycling infrastructure includes minimizing negative impacts to disadvantaged communities.
  • Increase community knowledge and capacity through environment-based education.
  • Highlight each person’s responsibility to preserve the earth’s natural and cultural resources and to protect equal access, rights, and enjoyment for future generations.

Participation in Decisions

  • Effectively communicate CalRecycle funding opportunities through outreach and education.
  • Provide accessible information about our roles, responsibilities, and rules.
  • Advance opportunities for community members to participate in the decision-making process, prior to the actual point when decisions are being made, so they have a say in decisions that affect their well-being. This includes working with local enforcement agencies, planning departments, cities, and counties for information sharing about local-level decisions.


  • Promote wide participation in CalRecycle programs by providing clear information, for businesses and consumers, about reducing waste and increasing reuse, recycling, and composting.
  • Ensure Environmental Justice interests are prioritized in CalRecycle grant funding decisions and other economic opportunities.
  • Continue research that promotes healthier lives and communities.
  • Supplemental Environmental Project Guidance for Local Enforcement Agency

Connecting Communities to CalRecycle (C3)

Connecting Communities

Connecting Communities to CalRecycle (C3)
CalRecycle’s work is rooted in the belief that all of us deserve a clean and healthy place to work, live, and play. This guidebook is one of many ongoing environmental justice efforts to provide information for all Californians to access CalRecycle’s programs, services, and decision-making processes.


Image from CalEnviroScreen 3.0

CalEnviroScreen 3.0: California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool
This screening methodology can be used to help identify California communities that are disproportionately burdened by multiple sources of pollution.

Report an Environmental Concern

The CalEPA Environmental Complaint System allows Californians to easily report an environmental problem anywhere in the state, whether it affects the quality of our air or water, the handling of hazardous or solid waste, or the use of pesticides.

Report a Regional Environmental
Concern to IVAN

Identifying Violations Affecting Neighborhoods (IVAN)
Learn how to report environmental issues in your community using the easy to use IVAN On-line reporting tool.

CalEPA Environmental Justice Program

US EPA Environmental Justice

  • EJ 2020 Action Agenda: EPA’s Environmental Justice Strategy
  • US EPA EJ Mapping and Screening Tool.
    EJScreen is an environmental justice mapping and screening tool that provides EPA with a nationally consistent dataset and approach for combining environmental and demographic indicators.

For more information contact: Environmental Justice, EnvironmentalJustice@calrecycle.ca.gov