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

  • Camp Fire Survivor Thanks Cleanup Workers for Giving Her Closure

     

     

     

    Chris and Michelle Friedman spent this past Thanksgiving in Santa Barbara with their daughter and four grandkids. 

    “It’s good to be with family during the holidays,” reflected Michelle. 

    Last year, their Thanksgiving had no tradition or comfort. They spent the weekend lodged in Redding after losing their Paradise home to the Camp Fire.

    “Our hearts weren’t really into Thanksgiving,” explained Michelle. “We couldn’t enjoy it when we just lost so much.”

    Last November, their house in Paradise was destroyed due to the Camp Fire. Their 1,900 square foot retirement dream home and almost all of their belongings had turned to ashes.  

    “That place felt like a vacation home in the mountains,” reflected Michelle. “We really loved it.”

    Their house was one of nearly 11,000 homes in Butte County cleaned up by teams Cal OES and CalRecycle managed.  After CalEPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control removed the most hazardous waste from burned properties, CalRecycle oversaw Phase 2, clearing away debris and ash from properties and recycling all concrete and anything else salvageable. 

    CalRecycle crews recently cleared more than 3.66 million tons, or 7.3 billion pounds, of ash, debris, metal, concrete, and contaminated soil. 

    “Our role is really critical with the survivors,” said Wes Minderman, CalRecycle Engineering Support Branch Chief. “We have a displaced community, these people have lost everything, and so our role and responsibility are to make sure that we do the debris removal, but we’re also sensitive to that fact. This is for the survivors. This is to assist them to recover and begin with the next step of their lives.”

    Prior to the clean up of their property, the Friedmans were able to communicate with the project’s foreman, sharing floor plans and pictures of what the house used to look like.  

    “We knew they wouldn’t find much, but they took the time and had the concern to make sure that they were as thorough as they could be. At the end of the day, that’s all you can ask for. What they did was give us closure with the confidence that there wasn’t anything to be found, and that in itself is a gift to us,” said Michelle.

    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Dec 2, 2019

  • Looking for an Exciting, Rewarding Career? CalRecycle Is Hiring?

    CalRecycle logo and groups of CalRecycle employees.

    This is an exciting time to work at CalRecycle. California is facing a climate crisis with extreme fire seasons, coastal erosion, and cyclical droughts and floods. CalRecycle is on the front lines of combating these changes with recycling programs that will make a tangible difference in our lifetime. Over the next few years, the department is implementing new recycling programs throughout the state that will revolutionize the way we manage materials to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of materials discarded into landfills. Join our team and make a difference in the lives of all Californians, enjoy a collaborative working culture, and maintain a healthy work/life balance.

    Our staff is working on implementing new laws like SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016), which tasks the department with overseeing new statewide mandatory yard and food waste curbside collection, new and expanding organics recycling facilities (like composters), and mandatory donation of edible food by businesses to food banks and pantries. Moving organic material out of landfills is one of the biggest changes to the waste and recycling industry since the ‘80s.

    You don’t have to be an environmental scientist to make a difference. Our department has more than 800 staff members who work on administrative tasks (like accounting and auditing), legislative affairs (like policy and bill analysis), and program analysis (like recycling programs and grants and loans). CalRecycle is a unique state department that allows staff to rub shoulders with other state and federal agencies, private businesses, lobbyists, legislators and staff, and the governor’s office. It’s a great place to start a career in public service and learn about different career path options available to you.

    Check out our CalRecycle Careers web pages for more information about the benefits of working for our department, the positions we offer, the current job openings we have, and for tips on applying for a state job

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Nov 25, 2019

  • One Year After Deadliest Fire in State History, California Completes Camp Fire Debris Cleanup

    Wildfire debris removal crews.
    CalEPA Under Secretary Serena McIlwain, Ken DaRosa, and CalRecycle staff members and contractors stand in front of one of the homes being rebuilt in Paradise.

     

    On the heels of the one-year anniversary of the Camp Fire, state cleanup crews have removed the final loads of wildfire debris from almost 11,000 burned properties in Butte County. 

    Since Feb. 2, 2019, crews managed by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) have cleared more than 3.66 million tons—or 7.3 billion pounds—of ash, debris, metal, concrete, and contaminated soil from the 10,904 properties that took part in the state’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program. The program, implemented in coordination with local governments and in partnership with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, offered survivors a streamlined option to clear their properties at no out-of-pocket cost. 

    Start of Paradise Project

    Cal OES Staff and Ceres Environmental debris removal crew pose as last debris is loaded in Concow, Butte County.

     

    Twice as Much Debris as 9/11 
    World Trade Center Disaster

    The largest cleanup project of its type in California history cleared twice the amount of debris removed from the World Trade Center site post-9/11.

    “This is a story of resilience, and I am inspired by the people of Paradise’s grit and their resolve to move forward after last year’s devastating fire,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom. “Our state continues to stand with the communities and all families that were impacted.” 

    More than 98 percent of the properties have been cleared for redevelopment, with the remaining sites going through the last stages of soil testing, erosion control, and property inspections in the past week. After the final inspection, property owners receive certification from Butte County that their lot is eligible for a building permit. 

    “Debris removal is an important first step in the rebuilding of Butte County and the Town of Paradise,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said. “From our contractors to our state, local, and federal partners, we are proud of everyone who has worked to help this community rebuild while keeping public and environmental health at the forefront.”

    The milestone was recognized on Tuesday, Nov. 19, with an announcement next to Paradise High School and overlooking one of dozens of homes now under construction on properties cleared by the CalRecycle/Cal OES project. The announcement, attended by members of the media, included representatives from the Town of Paradise, Butte County, Cal OES, and FEMA, as well as Assemblyman James Gallagher and Cal EPA Undersecretary Serena McIlwain.

    Project Completed Three Months 
    Sooner Than Expected

    “State, federal, and local government collaborated with private contractors to clear contaminated debris in just nine months because we shared one goal: to give almost 11,000 families back environmentally clean properties where they can rebuild their lives,” Undersecretary McIlwain noted. “Thank you to our staff at CalRecycle and the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) for your commitment to the safety of the Camp Fire survivors.” 

    Two CalEPA Departments Collaborated

    After the fire, DTSC’s Emergency Response Unit ensured that hazardous waste crews quickly and carefully cleaned up toxic substances such as asbestos to protect emergency personnel, the public, the environment, and workers involved in restoration efforts.

    CalRecycle then brought in teams of specialized contractors. Many of the workers lived in tents and trailers for long periods to prevent removing housing options for Camp Fire survivors. At homeowners’ requests, these de¬bris removal crews often sifted through ash looking for the remains of heirlooms like jewelry, collectibles, or clay that may have been hearty enough to survive the fire.

    Over the nine-month project, crews drove 305,000 truckloads of debris a total of 28.2 million road miles—the equivalent of 59 round trips to the moon. The intensive effort brought unprecedented traffic and activity to the previously quiet community.

    “We want to thank the community,” CalRecycle Chief Deputy Director Ken DaRosa said at Tuesday’s event, surrounded by the core fire debris removal team and industry partners. “We want to thank you for your patience, for your cooperation, for your support. This was not an easy operation: There were challenges; there were delays. But you stood by us. You believed in us. And you trusted us. We want to take today and thank you for that trust, that belief, and that support.”

    CalRecycle will next take on the removal of Butte County’s 350,000 fire-damaged trees that threaten public roads. Crews are expected to start working early in 2020 and continue through the fall. 

    Posted on In the Loop by CalRecycle Staff on Nov 21, 2019