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

  • Reusable Notebooks Reduce Paper Waste

    I’m guilty. Whenever I see a blank notebook with a cute cover on it—you know, like a pretty marble swirl, a sweet but overstated inspirational saying, or a sweet but overstated inspirational saying printed over a pretty marble swirl—I just have to have it! Then more often than not, it sits on my bookshelf being pretty, but not truly serving its purpose. So, now I have three problems: 1) I have a ton of half-used notebooks, journals, and diaries cluttering up my space; 2) all my notes are disorganized because they’re in order of whichever pretty notebook was closest to me when I needed to write something; and 3) I don’t know what to do with all the notebooks IF they ever get used. There’s all the paper waste of the notes I no longer need and the disorganized leftovers I might need at some point eventually. Sure, I can type everything out, but who wants to do that? Some of us still like the idea of writing things down, and in some cases it makes more sense than jotting it down on a laptop or phone.

    Enter the reusable notebook!

    I first heard about reusable notebooks from a friend. Yes, it sounds crazy. How can a notebook be reusable? What do you do with your notes if you want to keep them? Sliced bread, people landing on the moon … now, a reusable notebook? What kind of madness is this?!? Then I did some investigating. It turns out there are several different types of reusable smart notebooks that can help cut down on paper waste, reduce clutter created by an endless amount of journals, and help you organize your thoughts digitally. Some notepads are like digital tablets: They are expensive and require a special pen and a charger (e.g., the Moleskine smart writing set notebook). Some require stickers to organize notes. Some even require microwaves! Yes, microwaves. I settled on one reusable journal called Rocketbook, not because it’s necessarily the best notebook out there, but because it was on sale and it got good reviews from other buyers.

    Since, as far as I know, it is not available in stores, I ordered it online. Cringe, I know! Packaging waste is a big issue, and this one was a doozy. It came in a plastic foil-lined zipper bag within a non-recyclable, but thankfully reusable bubble wrap envelope. There was also a microfiber (also a growing waste problem) cloth inside another plastic sleeve. Hey, I tried. I bought a reusable notebook to cut down on paper waste and ended up with two plastic sleeves, a bubble wrap envelope, and carbon emissions for the travel from across the country. *Facepalm*

    Here’s the good news. So far, this notebook is awesome! The paper doesn’t feel exactly like paper because it isn’t paper, but it does feel like writing on paper for the most part. While it works similar to a dry erase board in that it can easily be erased by wiping it with water and the included cloth, it will not wipe or smudge off if you touch it (after the recommended 15-second drying period). The ink can also be removed with the pen’s eraser—that part really took me back to 1996 erasable pen nostalgia. Each page is numbered and contains a QR code, a grid, and cute little symbols on the bottom reminiscent of Lucky Charms —all are supposed to help keep you organized with assistance from the downloadable app.

    Each symbol on the bottom can be assigned to an electronic account. For example, the diamond might be team meeting notes that you would like to email or drop into a special folder for your co-workers when scanned by your phone. If there are multiple pages, the QR code will put the pages in order for you. Once you are done scanning the pages, you can count on your notes being organized in folders you designate for easy access. Then you can erase the pages so you can reuse them for years to come. The journal is compatible with certain pens and highlighters which can be found in stores and can also be used on similar notebooks like the Elfin notebook, the Zohulu notebook, and the RUBook—all comparable products to the Rocketbook.

    Overall, I’m pretty happy with my purchase and excited to see how functional it will be in my work and personal life in the long run. Time will tell!

    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Jan 10, 2019

  • A New Twist on 'Out With the Old'

    It’s a new year and time to reflect on lessons learned in 2018. At CalRecycle, we’re not big fans of “out with the old,” unless we’re talking about old, outmoded mindsets about “waste” vs. “material that can be used again to make cool new things.”

    Take, for example, our Social Committees and our Zero Waste team, which teamed up to create the Inaugural Zero Waste Competition between Sacramento and Southern California staff for our Annual Summer Picnics.

    The Sunshine Club, the Long Beach office’s Social Committee, has been putting on an annual Zero Waste picnic for the past five years. This year, they challenged Sacramento staff to a waste reduction competition. The prize? Bragging rights for the next year—plus a repurposed, upcycled Zero Waste trophy!

    Zero Waste team members Priyanka Talanki and Benjamin Johnson.  Kathleen Strickely showing off the Zero Waste trophy

    Left: Zero Waste team members Priyanka Talanki and Benjamin Johnson built the Zero Waste trophy from upcycled material.  Right: Kathleen Strickely shows off the completed trophy.

    The Social Committees and Zero Waste team worked diligently to reduce waste upstream by asking attendees to bring their own “mess kit” and offering reusable plates and utensils for a $1 rental fee on the day of each picnic. Food waste was composted, excess food was donated, and beverage containers were sent to a recycling center to redeem for the California Refund Value (CRV). All remaining waste was weighed and divided by the number of attendees to come up with a comparable metric for the two picnics: “per-capita” disposal, or the amount of waste per person. 

    As a team-building exercise, the staffers took an old soda bottle, scrap aluminum, and a piece of driftwood to create the Zero Waste trophy. 

    And, the winner of the inaugural Zero Waste competition, weighing in at .037 lbs. of waste per person, was … (drum roll please) … Southern California!

    Sacramento came in at a close second with .05 lbs. of waste per person.

    Together, CalRecycle staff diverted 139.9 lbs. of waste from landfills by reusing, recycling, composting, and donating excess materials from the Annual Summer Picnics.

    If reducing waste is on your New Year’s Resolution list, that's great! Planning a Zero Waste event is not rocket science. However, it does take some extra effort. Ask yourself: How can you reduce waste in the first place? What kinds of material do you anticipate generating? How are you going to collect material? What is the highest and best use of the discards? Who is going to divert the material? It is essential to have a dedicated team of people who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty!

    As CalRecycle staff, it is important for us to embody the values of our department. As the leading agency on waste and recycling, it is important for us to “walk the walk” and lead by example. Striving for zero waste events is a small, but fun way to carry our mission to conserve resources, protect the environment, and help combat climate change.

    The Long Beach office accepting the Zero Waste trophy on behalf of Southern California staff.

    Long Beach office staff accepted the Zero Waste trophy on behalf of Southern California staff.

    Posted on In the Loop by Angela Vincent on Jan 7, 2019

  • New State Laws Affecting CalRecycle--and You

    CalRecycle staff has been busy preparing to meet the department’s new statutory responsibilities. Here are the top new laws that CalRecycle will be helping to implement.

    Sharps and Pharmaceuticals EPR Program

    SB 212 (Jackson, Chapter 1004, Statutes of 2018) establishes the nation’s first extended producer responsibility program for sharps and pharmaceuticals. Much like CalRecycle’s current stewardship programs for paint, mattresses, and carpet, responsibility will be placed on manufacturers to participate through stewardship organizations (likely at least one for pharmaceuticals and one for sharps) to design, fund, and implement a take-back program for their products. CalRecycle will have oversight and enforcement responsibilities, which will require coordination with the Board of Pharmacy and possibly other state agencies. 

    Recyclable Food Service Packaging

    SB 1335 (Allen, Chapter 610, Statutes of 2018) requires vendors at all state agencies, facilities, and properties to use food service packaging that is reusable, recyclable, or compostable. SB 1335 authorizes CalRecycle to define “reusability,” “recyclability,” and “compostability” in the regulations, which take effect Jan. 1, 2021.

    Increased Compost Use in California

    AB 2411 (McCarty, Chapter 238, Statutes of 2018) adds to the provisions of the 1989 Compost Market Program by requiring CalRecycle to develop a plan to increase compost use for slope stabilization and for establishing vegetation during its wildfire debris cleanup efforts. It also requires CalRecycle to work with Caltrans to identify and implement best practices for cost-effective compost use along California highways. CalRecycle must review these best practices every five years and update them as needed.

    Recycling Center Reverse Vending Machines

    AB 2493 (Bloom, Chapter 715, Statutes of 2018) extends more flexibility related to the operation of reverse vending machines in California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program. Key changes address requirements for hours of operation and staffing hours, among others.

    Environmental Education

    SB 720 (Allen, Chapter 374, Statutes of 2018) reaffirms the state’s commitment to environmental education. It also directs that climate change be incorporated into the Environmental Principles and Concepts, which are the foundation for CalRecycle’s Education and the Environment Initiative curriculum.

    Lithium-Ion Battery Advisory Group

    AB 2832 (Dahle, Chapter 822, Statutes of 2018) requires CalEPA to convene an advisory group to review and advise the Legislature on policies related to the recovery and recycling of lithium-ion batteries sold in electric cars in California. The advisory group, which includes CalRecycle, must submit policy recommendations to the Legislature that help ensure most lithium-ion batteries in California are reused or recycled at the end of their useful life.

    Food Recovery: California Climate Investments

    AB 1933 (Maienschein, Chapter 808, Statutes of 2018) makes clear that the recovery of food for human consumption is an acceptable form of organic waste diversion eligible for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund grants and loans. In addition to providing clear authority for CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program, the law also broadens the scope of projects eligible for CalRecycle climate investments. 

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Dec 31, 2018