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: 

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

  • 2017 Another Year of Progress for CalRecycle—and California’s Sustainability Campaign

    CalRecycle oversees initiatives that have helped further California’s sustainability by diverting recyclable materials away from landfills and toward beneficial reuse. This protects human health and the environment, and conserves natural resources. Our aim is to turn the state’s waste stream into a supply stream, and in doing so integrate the “green” economy into the mainstream. In 2017, we made great progress by investing both financially and legislatively in the programs and infrastructure needed to recycle more of our waste. Here’s a look at last year’s highlights.

    $24 Million in Grants to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    CalRecycle’s effort to transform the state’s waste management paradigm got a monumental boost with the passage of Senate Bill 1383 (Lara, Chapter 355, Statutes of 2015), which establishes requirements to reduce organic waste disposal. To meet targets of 50 percent reduction by 2020 and 75 percent by 2025, California will need to invest in additional infrastructure to handle the increased volume of organics diverted from landfills, including building new facilities and stimulating new markets for recycled organic products like compost, fertilizers, and biofuels. CalRecycle estimates the state will need up to 100 new composting and in-vessel digestion facilities, at a likely capital investment of $2 billion to $3 billion.

    Part of this investment will come in the form of California Climate Investments that are appropriated through the state budget and funded by Cap-and-Trade dollars. This year, CalRecycle awarded $24 million in grants to help convert more of the state’s organic waste into renewable energy and compost.  

    $5 Million to Fight Climate Change, Feed Hungry

    As part of the state’s effort to combat climate change, divert organic materials from landfills and alleviate food insecurity in California, CalRecycle launched a new grant program with $5 million worth of funding to target food waste prevention and food rescue. (An additional $4.38 million in funding has been allocated for 2018.) These investments also come from Cap-and-Trade revenue.

    AB 1219

    California continues to push the envelope on diverting organic material from landfills, which reduces methane gas emissions that occur when such green waste decomposes in the dump. Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 1219, which helps clarify protections for food donors, who sometimes hesitate to donate food for fear of civil and criminal liability. Every year, more than 5.5 million tons of food are tossed into the trash, and a lot of that food is still edible, wholesome, and safe for consumption. Diverting food waste away from landfills helps protect human health by combatting food insecurity and fighting climate change.

    Fire Cleanups

    California was hit hard this year by devastating wildfires throughout the state. The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) tasked CalRecycle to conduct wildfire debris removal operations in Butte, Nevada, and Yuba counties, and operations in each of these counties were completed ahead of schedule. CalRecycle established a debris removal operations center in Marysville to coordinate recovery efforts and provide a base of operations for field crews and homeowners in need of assistance.

    SB 458

    In October, Governor Brown signed into law SB 458 (Wiener, Chapter 648, Statutes of 2017), which authorizes up to five limited-term pilot projects to improve redemption opportunities in communities that don’t have nearby recycling centers.

    SB 458 allows cities or counties in rural areas or that have many grocery stores without nearby recycling centers to apply for a pilot program. If accepted, they will have increased flexibility in how recycling centers may operate. The expectation is that this increased flexibility will make it easier for entrepreneurs to run programs that provide redemption opportunities near grocery stores.

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Jan 25, 2018

  • California’s Covered Electronic Waste Program, Explained

    While the pace of technology routinely brings new electronic wonders, it also creates a stream of outdated, unwanted devices. California has taken a comprehensive approach to ensure discarded electronics are environmentally managed, and the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) is leading the way with the state’s Covered Electronic Waste (CEW) Program.

    The CEW Program was established through the Electronic Waste Recycling Act (SB 20, Sher, Chapter 526, Statutes of 2003) and took effect in 2005. The legislation set up a state-administered funding system comprised of authorized collectors and recyclers and financed by a consumer fee. To date, participating operators have helped ensure the recycling and detailed management of more than 2.2 billion pounds of California’s covered electronic waste.

    The CEW Program, similar to others under the purview of CalRecycle, centers on serving the needs of both the environment and human health. In California, all electronic waste is considered to be hazardous, and many e-waste components are difficult to recycle. The purpose of the CEW Program is to promote resource conservation and job growth through the recovery and recycling of as much e-waste as possible, and to protect the public health and safety by mandating safe, responsible end-of-life management of e-waste materials that are not recyclable or for which there are no reuse markets. 

    Under California’s CEW Program, “covered electronic devices”—on which consumer recycling fees are assessed—are defined as video display devices with screens greater than 4 inches (diagonally). These include cathode ray tube (CRT) devices, TV and computer monitors containing CRTs, TV and computer monitors containing Liquid Crystal Displays, laptops and tablets with LCD screens, plasma TVs, and personal portable DVD players with LCD screens. The consumer fee on purchases of new covered devices in California is currently set at $5, $6 or $7 (based on screen size).

    More broadly, the term “e-waste” is often applied to all consumer and business electronic equipment that is near or at the end of its useful life. More than half of all electronic waste discarded in California is not “covered electronic waste”—things like computer central processing units, stereos, printers, telephones, etc.—but still are materials regulated under California law and require proper handling.

    While the federal government and other states have different regulations, CEW handlers and processors are generally regulated more stringently in California. Materials recovered in the CEW Program, both CRT and non-CRT devices, are dismantled in-state, providing jobs and ensuring that what value exists—metals, plastics, components—is diverted from disposal and re-enters the secondary markets.

    Certain residual materials, such as CRT glass, continue to be regulated once a device is dismantled. Bare CRT tubes, as well as processed CRT glass, make up about 50-60 percent of the original CRT device by weight. Regulated residuals that do not have viable or environmentally sound markets, such as certain CRT glass, must be disposed of in hazardous waste and other regulated facilities.

    The future of electronics is only getting more complex. While CRT devices still make up a large percentage of recovered devices, more flat-panel technology with little to no recycling value is fast emerging within California’s electronic waste stream.  data-sf-ec-immutable="">  continues to be fully transparent about these challenges in monthly public meetings and public workshops with stakeholders. The department has instituted regulatory reforms to address these challenges and supports continued implementation of a new law designed to help deal with the ultimate disposition of certain CRT glass.

    CalRecycle encourages consumers to remain engaged and play a role in the policies that affect California and the world. The CEW Program has been a successful endeavor due to the participating public, the actions of industry, and regulatory oversight. CalRecycle looks forward to its leadership role and the continued evolution of electronic waste management.

    —Lance Klug


    Remember to take your old electronics to an e-waste recycling center when you upgrade.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Sep 28, 2017