Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.
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.
Commissioner Affiliation John Bouchard Teamsters 350, Principle Officer Deborah Cadena Kern County Recycling John Davis Mojave Desert and Mountain Recycling Authority Jan Dell The Last Beach Cleanup, Founder Jeff Donlevy Ming’s Recycling, General Manager Laura Ferrante Waste Alternatives, Owner Joseph Kalpakoff Mid Valley Disposal, CEO Nick Lapis Californians Against Waste, Director of Advocacy Manuel Medrano City of Chula Vista, Environmental Services Manager Alex Oseguera Waste Management, Director of Government Affairs Eric Potashner Recology, Senior Director of Strategic Affairs Heidi Sanborn National Stewardship Action Council Ann Schneider Millbrae Vice Mayor Coby Skye LA County Public Works, Assistant Deputy Director Sara Toyoda City of Indio, Environmental Programs Coordinator Richard Valle Tri-CED Community Recycling, CEO Tedd Ward Del 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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
While we’re staying home to save lives, most of us eat almost all our food at home.
You can avoid extra trips to the grocery store, and save money. Follow these easy tips to reduce your household food waste.
Don’t throw out $1,500 a year!
- Save an average of about $1,500 or 1,000 pounds of food a year
- Save water and fuel used to produce the wasted food you throw in the trash.
- Lower gases that cause climate change.
Organic waste, including food waste, in landfills emits 20 percent of the state’s methane, a short-lived greenhouse super pollutant 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Reducing food waste and organic waste disposal is one of the fastest and easiest ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Let’s get started!
Follow the environmental mantra: Reduce, reuse, recycle.
- Check your kitchen before you shop.
Before heading to the grocery store, plan your meals for the week. See what you already have in your fridge and cupboards to avoid buying too much.
- Shop your kitchen.
Look up recipes for using what you have in your cupboard or fridge. Here’s a delicious recipe for “pesto sauce” from Serious Eats to liven up any box of pasta you forgot you had in the cupboard.
- Make friends with your freezer.
Cold storage can provide many life hacks! What do you freeze that might surprise some people? Share with us on Facebook and Twitter!
- Substitute with what you have.
If the recipe calls for sour cream, unsweetened Greek yogurt works in a pinch!
- Understand food date labels.
Many foods are still perfectly safe to eat after the “sell by” date, or even the “use by” date, has passed. Educate yourself and don’t toss food that’s safe.
- Only buy products in bulk that have a long shelf life.
These days of social isolation won’t last forever, but we can make our food and dollars stretch with some new Earth-friendly lifestyle habits now that we can keep up even after we resume our social lives.
We’re all in this together!Posted on In the Loop by Heather Jones on May 5, 2020
The 50th anniversary of Earth Day is April 22. As we stay home to save lives, we can use our unified spirit to help save the planet, as well.
In the decades before Earth Day was founded, U.S. industry boomed with progress that included large, leaded fuel-guzzling cars and factories belching pollutants. The first Earth Day brought together everyday Americans, who called for a stop to the damage to water, air, plant life, and wildlife around them.
20 Million Americans Demanded Control over Pollution
After witnessing the aftermath of a massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin organized the first Earth Day in 1970. It catalyzed the simmering environmental movement, launching it to the forefront of American consciousness.
Photo of smoggy Los Angeles courtesy of U.S. EPA
Earth Day harnessed the passion of separate groups fighting against power plants, toxic waste sites, oil spills, car emission pollution, and the loss of forests. It pushed conservation, pollution management, and environmental stewardship to national awareness. The first Earth Day celebration acted as a cultural tipping point as 20 million Americans gathered to demand real change.
Unregulated factories bellowing toxic smoke were common before the US EPA formed in 1970.
It Didn’t Happen Overnight
- Eight years earlier, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, a groundbreaking book that critically examined the impact of industrialization on our planet. Carson observed that the heavy use of pesticides was killing off birds, making the forests silent. Some credit her book with jump-starting the environmental movement.
- When the heavily polluted Cuyahoga River in Ohio caught fire in 1969, it spurred demand for pollution control and a Federal Clean Water Act.
In 1968, NASA’s space program photos of the earth from the Apollo 8 mission communicated the smallness and fragility of our planet when seen from the distance and vastness of space.
Congress Responds with the U.S. EPA
Real change came less than eight months after the first Earth Day in December 1970 when Congress created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to tackle environmental issues. By the U.S. EPA’s tenth anniversary, Congress had passed significant legislation that laid the foundation for environmental regulation, including:
- Banning the toxic pesticide DDT
- Setting new car emissions standards and national air quality standards
- Improving water treatment facilities
- Addressing the practice of dumping chemicals into rivers and lakes
As a leader in environmental policy, California established its own laws to care for our state.
The Garbage Barge Made Us Think Seriously About Trash
In 1987 New York, like much of the country, experienced a shortage of landfill space, and local officials decided to ship 3,168 tons of trash to a North Carolina facility pilot program that would convert the trash into methane. North Carolina officials unexpectedly declined the load and the Garbage Barge, followed closely in national news coverage, continued to sail down and back up the North American coast looking for a place to unload. Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Mexico, and Belize also declined to accept it. After eight months at sea the barge returned to New York, which incinerated the trash and buried the ashes.
Finding the Best, Highest Use for Our Trash
This incident highlighted how poorly the country was managing its waste and helped usher into law California’s Integrated Waste Management Act, which established our 50 percent diversion jurisdictional requirement. The state has passed other significant legislation to recycle bottles, cans, tires, paint, motor oil, and mattresses. In 2016 a new recycling law passed to address organics waste, which makes up two-thirds of the trash sent to landfills. Reaching the law’s goals would reduce landfill methane emissions and divert 20 percent of currently disposed edible food to the one in eight Californians who don’t know where their next meal will come from.
Saving Lives and Saving the Planet from Home
Earth Day has always centered on everyday Americans taking action to create cleaner air, water, and land. We can speak out to support policy that protects the environment. But we now have awareness of steps we can take in our daily lives that will save energy, reduce pollution, support renewable resources, and allow us to continue our convenient lifestyles without destroying our future.
You can even take action to help the environment from the safety of your own home.
- Use LED light bulbs
- Have energy and water efficient appliances
- Have a drought tolerant yard
- Reuse water bottles
- Take other action to help the Earth in your own way?
Post a photo, story, or video with #HowISaveThePlanet on our social media showing how you make every day Earth Day in your home.
Follow CalRecycle and CalEPA on social media for fun virtual Earth Day activities and see Californians come together to save the planet as we stay home to save lives.Posted on In the Loop by CalRecycle Public Affairs - Chris McSwain, Christina FIles, and Maria West on Apr 13, 2020