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

  • Plastic Recycling Gets a Legal Boost: World’s Highest Standard for Recycled Content Could Drive Up Demand

    California just took an historic step to combat plastic pollution and accelerate the state’s transition away from fossil fuels to a cleaner, green economy. Under a first-in-the-nation law, the state will require new water, soda, and other beverage bottles to contain 50 percent recycled plastic by 2030. 

    The bold new requirements in AB 793 (Ting, Chapter 115, Statutes of 2020) make California’s minimum recycled plastic content standards the strongest in the world, advancing the state’s mission to: 

    • Create strong domestic markets for recycled materials. This will increase the demand for recyclable plastic from manufacturers, giving it more value and lowering how much of it ends up polluting the state and filling landfills. 

    • Reduce dependence on new plastic. Since plastic is made from oil and never biodegrades (it only breaks into toxic microplastics), the law will help California fast-track climate progress and create less toxicity in the air and water. 

    “California has long led the way on bold solutions in the climate space, and the steps we take today bring us closer to our ambitious goals,” said Governor Newsom when he signed the legislation. “I thank the Legislature for taking these important steps to protect the planet and public health.” 

    Beverage Container Recycling Boost 

    The minimum recycled content standards for plastic beverage containers subject to California Refund Value (CRV) could also help improve profits for beverage container recycling centers by greatly increasing demand for recyclable plastic.  

    “Higher scrap values for recycled plastic due to increased demand for the material will help California recyclers impacted by changes in global prices for recyclable materials,” said Ken DaRosa, acting director for California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). 

    In 2018, China implemented “National Sword,” a combination of policies aimed at limiting contamination in recyclable materials by restricting imports of those materials. The resulting declines in global scrap market values, coupled with domestic beverage container market shifts toward low-value plastic and away from higher-value aluminum, have challenged the business model of traditional recycling centers. 

     

    Plastic Pollution Solution

    Manufacturers often find it cheaper to use new plastic compared to recycled plastic because of lower oil prices in recent years. This has been exacerbated further by reduced demand for oil during to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

    In 2019, California sold beverages in 12.6 billion plastic CRV containers. An average of 15 percent minimum recycled content was used to make those bottles, according to data reported to CalRecycle by beverage manufacturers. Increasing the amount of recycled plastic used in the manufacturing of beverage containers will help increase demand for recycling and make California more self-sufficient and its economy more circular, while reducing the state’s reliance on fossil fuel-based manufacturing sources. 

    “Limiting California’s dependency on new plastic will conserve resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that come from mining and refining new raw materials,” added DaRosa.  

    California’s New Standards   

    The new law establishes standards for recycled content in California Redemption Value (CRV) plastic beverage containers sold in California. Manufacturers will be required to use at least: 

    • 15 percent recycled plastic in new containers by 2022. 

    • 25 percent recycled plastic in new containers by 2025. 

    • 50 percent recycled plastic in new containers by 2030. 

    AB 793 grants CalRecycle the ability to review and possibly reduce the minimum content standards to ensure they are achievable. Beverage manufacturers have the right to petition the director once per year to review and adjust the requirements.  

    The law gives CalRecycle the authority to conduct audits and investigations to ensure the standards are met. Beverage manufacturers that fail to achieve the requirements are subject to a 20-cent penalty for each pound short of the mandated targets. 

    All penalties go directly into a new Recycling Enhancement Penalty Account to support the recycling, infrastructure, collection, and processing of plastic beverage containers in California. For more information on implementation of AB 793, please sign up for the Beverage Container Recycling listserv here: https://www2.calrecycle.ca.gov/Listservs/Subscribe/132 

    Posted on In the Loop by Linda Mumma on Oct 20, 2020

  • How Recycled Tires Can Save California Roads at Risk of Landslide

    Santa Barbara’s Ortega Ridge Road is no longer in danger of washing away thanks to 80,000 recycled waste tires. Like many paved pathways that curve and bend along with California’s rugged terrain, the ground beneath the road absorbed water in the rainy season - undermining its stability and causing the asphalt to crack, sink, and slide down the hillside. At one point, the road was reduced to just one safe lane.

    Now, thanks to an innovative new road repair technique, Ortega Ridge Road is stable, safe, and a model for what’s possible in areas prone to landslides.

     

     

    A First for California

    With grant assistance and technical guidance from the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), Santa Barbara County rebuilt Ortega Ridge Road in 2019 using more than 80,000 recycled tires that were shredded and processed into Tire-Derived Aggregate (TDA). The highly permeable fill material allows water to drain through it (unlike conventional soil)– avoiding excess weight that often causes these types of roadways to wash away.

    The Ortega Ridge Road repair was the first infrastructure project in California to use TDA material in this type of civil engineering application.

    CalRecycle Funding Stopped the Cycle of Failure

    Santa Barbara County spent decades on this problem. “We were looking for a solution for this continually failing road,” says Chris Doolittle, an engineer geologist with Santa Barbara County. “It had been failing for 20 years at a minimum.” Over and over again, crews tried the more traditional repair technique of laying down new asphalt – one layer after another - only to watch the road degrade again.

    Picture of mountain landslide

    “We had a good relationship with CalRecycle and determined this site would be a really good candidate for a pilot project,” Doolittle recalls.

    In March of 2018, CalRecycle awarded Santa Barbara County $158,241 in funding from its Tire-Derived Aggregate Grant Program to purchase the recycled tire fill material. Armed with research from the University of California San Diego, which provided engineering data for the project design, CalRecycle worked alongside the county and engineering contractor GHD Services to design and construct a more eco-friendly and long-lasting repair on a 225-foot section of Ortega Ridge Road.

    Tire-derived aggregate, made from 810 tons of California waste tires, was used to backfill a retaining wall composed of large, rock-filled welded wire baskets (called gabions) to replace failed soil and provide lateral support to the reconstructed embankment. The repair resulted in a more permanent repair, saved the county permitting time, money for easements, construction costs and expensive road materials.

    Road workers using T D A to fix landslide

    “CalRecycle provided expert support,” notes CalRecycle senior waste management engineer William Heung. “As a result, public works was able to open a safe, stable roadway to the public more quickly and inexpensively than traditional methods, with the environmental benefit of reducing the number of used tires buried in landfills.”

    There’s an Award for That!

    The Ortega Ridge Road repair earned the 2020 Outstanding Local Streets and Road Repair Project award from the County Engineers Association of California (CEAC).

    Aerial view of TDA roadwork project

    “What we want is to see something that is out-of-the-box thinking and innovative,” explained CEAC President Rick Tippett, also the director of transportation for Trinity County. “What this award is intended to do is share success, so other agencies will take those ideas back to their communities.”

    Project leaders are hopeful a recognition like this will encourage other local cities and counties to consider the use of TDA and this groundbreaking engineering technique to improve local infrastructure and protect public safety. “We would like to see more of this type of project around the state,” says Heung. “It is a superior alternative material to other products out there and a great use for California’s scrap tires.”

    Longer Lasting Roads with Little Environmental Impact

    Using t d a on roadwork project

    Tire-Derived Aggregate is a smart, cost-effective way to repurpose some of the 51 million waste tires that Californians generate every year. Beneficial uses for this material include:

    • Lightweight, permeable backfill that’s lighter than gravel and more permeable than soil
    • A low-cost option to reduce train noise. When placed under tracks, TDA reduces the vibration and noise that is often a nuisance to those living nearby.
    • Retaining wall backfill, particularly in areas prone to landslides. Because of TDA’s lightweight properties, retaining walls can be designed using less reinforcing steel.
    • Landfill gas collection trenches. The high porosity of TDA makes it an excellent material for filling landfill gas collection trenches that transport methane, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon dioxide.

    CalRecycle’s Tire-Derived Aggregate Grant Program supports projects that use recycled waste tires in place of conventional construction materials for civil engineering applications such as retaining wall backfill, landslide stabilization, vibration mitigation, and various landfill uses. The unique engineering properties of shredded waste tires allow for free-draining, lightweight, and typically less expensive solutions for these types of projects.

    • Since 2011, CalRecycle has awarded $5,582,126 in TDA grants to 28 projects statewide.  
    • Grants are funded through a portion of the $1.75 fee consumers pay on each new tire purchased in California.
    • For more information about CalRecycle’s waste tire management grants, including application criteria and maximum award amounts, see our Tire Recycling, Cleanup, and Enforcement Grants webpage.
    • Get direct notifications about funding availability, applicant and project eligibility, and application due dates by joining CalRecycle’s Tire-Derived Aggregate listserv.
    Posted on In the Loop by Chris McSwain on Jul 20, 2020

  • New Statewide Commission Explores Ways to Adapt California Recycling

    recycling bin

     

    In the wake of changing global markets for recyclable materials , California’s new Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling is getting right to work on strategies to help boost waste reduction, reuse, and recycling. Launched virtually on June 24, the commission of 17 representatives of various stakeholder groups will spend the next six months developing policy recommendations to help clean up California’s recycling stream and strengthen markets for recyclable materials.

    “As the fifth largest economy in the world, we not only have a responsibility to be an environmental leader, but we also have an opportunity to change the national and global agenda when it comes to managing materials and resources,” California Secretary for Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld told the group of commission members. “While some point to National Sword policies and other import limitations as a ‘crisis,’ for me, it’s really an opportunity to make sure we clean up the global system and reinvest in California.”  

    The Commission Includes Recyclers, Haulers, Environmentalists, Jurisdictions, and More

    The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) selected the diverse group of commissioners from a pool of applicants representing a wide range of public agencies, private solid waste enterprises, and environmental organizations in large, small, urban, suburban and rural communities throughout California. Giving so many sectors a seat at the table will enable the commission to arrive at solutions that take various priorities and barriers into account.

    CommissionerAffiliation 
    John BouchardTeamsters 350, Principle Officer
    Deborah CadenaKern County Recycling
    John DavisMojave Desert and Mountain Recycling Authority
    Jan DellThe Last Beach Cleanup, Founder
    Jeff DonlevyMing’s Recycling, General Manager
    Laura FerranteWaste Alternatives, Owner
    Joseph KalpakoffMid Valley Disposal, CEO
    Nick LapisCalifornians Against Waste, Director of Advocacy
    Manuel MedranoCity of Chula Vista, Environmental Services Manager
    Alex OsegueraWaste Management, Director of Government Affairs
    Eric PotashnerRecology, Senior Director of Strategic Affairs
    Heidi Sanborn National Stewardship Action Council
    Ann SchneiderMillbrae Vice Mayor
    Coby SkyeLA County Public Works, Assistant Deputy Director
    Sara ToyodaCity of Indio, Environmental Programs Coordinator
    Richard ValleTri-CED Community Recycling, CEO
    Tedd WardDel Norte Solid Waste Management Director

     

    A Goal to Transform Waste into Resources

    Over the next six months, the commission will evaluate the current state of recycling in California and recommend policies to reduce contamination in the curbside recycling stream and improve markets for recyclable materials. By January 1, 2021, the commission will offer those policy recommendations to CalRecycle. The goal is to turn more of California’s waste stream into a supply source for California businesses to create new jobs, combat pollution, conserve natural resources, and make California healthier and more sustainable for future generations. 

    The commission will also provide regular feedback on public messaging and educational materials to encourage recycling and minimize the contamination of materials in curbside recycling programs. 

     

    person recycling

     

    Addressing Domestic Materials Markets and Clearer Recycling Standards

    In addition to approving its charter and organizational structure, commissioners used their initial meeting to select Heidi Sanborn and Richard Valle to serve as chair and vice chair.  

    Sanborn has worked in the materials management industry for nearly 30 years in roles with the California Integrated Waste Management Board (which later became CalRecycle), industry consulting, and as founding director of the California Product Stewardship Council and the National Stewardship Action Council (NSAC).  Sanborn is currently the Executive Director at NSAC.

    Valle has worked in the recycling industry for forty years in roles that include Chairman of Alameda County’s Recycling Board, councilmember for the City of Union City, and CEO of Tri-CED Community Recycling. Valle currently serves as President of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

    Both Sanborn and Valle said they look forward to helping California clean up its recycling stream.  

    “I believe this Statewide Recycling Commission will be the forum from which a stronger domestic market for our materials will be born and uniform recycling standards will be created so California residents will have clear direction in their efforts to protect the environment,” said Valle. 

     

    plastic pollution in river

     

    California’s Strategy to Rise from a Recycling Downturn 

    Right now, California is feeling the fallout from a global market disruption as well as declining prices for recycled materials.  

    Historically, about a third of California’s recyclable material was exported to overseas markets as the state largely operated under a “Collect-Sort-Export” model, with some domestic manufacturing, to manage its recyclable materials.

    Exports have been steadily declining since 2011, due in part to changes in foreign import policies that severely limited markets for recycled commodities. These policies, along with competitively lower costs of virgin (raw) materials, have contributed to a dramatic decline in value for some of California’s most commonly exported recyclables. The lack of available markets can sometimes result in potentially recyclable material discarded into California’s already overburdened landfills.

    COVID-19 made these problems worse. When the pandemic hit California, safety concerns translated to heightened demand for single-use plastics such as water bottles, personal protective equipment, and grocery bags. At the same time, the reduction in workers available to accept recyclables or process materials contributed to a decline in recycled feedstock.

     

    bales of cardboard

     

    In combination, these global disruptions create a big challenge for California and its recycling industry, but they also provide the state with a new opportunity to innovate a new model that creates green jobs, supports new markets, reduces pollution, and conserves our natural resources.

    What Are the Next Steps?

    CalRecycle will continue to host the online commission meetings as it works to fulfill tasks set out by the California Recycling Market Development Act (AB 1583, Eggman, Chapter 690, Statutes of 2019), signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom late last year.   

    With the commission expected to provide recommendations by January 1, 2021, its members agreed to meet every first and third Wednesday morning of the month. Its next meeting is scheduled for July 15th from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  

    How Can You Get Involved?

    The Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling meetings are open to the public and can be viewed here.

    Email questions and comments to ab1583commission@calrecycle.ca.gov.

    To have meeting dates and other related information sent your email, subscribe to the Recycling Commission listserv here.

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Linda Mumma on Jul 14, 2020