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/132Posted on In the Loop by Linda Mumma on Oct 20, 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
Executive Fellow Tom Steel with Environmental Justice Manager Maria Salinas and Acting Director Ken DaRosa.
Government employees know how to address environmental crises; but, unless we live in communities with contaminated drinking water, searing heat waves, and pollution-induced asthma attacks, we can never truly understand the lives shaped by environmental injustice. Lower-income populations experience greater pollution burdens because community members are often not involved in the government approval decision-making process of polluting facilities proposed for their neighborhoods. The reasons include:
- Historical practices such as redlining mortgage practices that ensured entire neighborhoods only included a specific racial population
- Lack of political clout or money to afford attorneys to speak up against industrial infrastructure locating near them
“Health equity means that everyone has the opportunities and resources needed for optimal health and well-being,” LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrerhas commented. Environmental justice begins with having a say about the safety of the place you live.
A sea of complicated questions awaits the community member who tries to address environmental injustice. How will a new or expanded compost facility impact local residents? How can members of the public use the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which requires the disclosure of significant environmental effects of a proposed discretionary project? How can the online screening tool CalEnviroScreen, which identifies communities disproportionately burdened by pollution, help when the decision-making process includes a lack of transparency and inclusion of community members’ voices?
Those with answers about how to address pollution issues can benefit from the perspective of people living in impacted communities. Those who live in these areas can learn about support, tools, and how to make their voices heard to protect their communities. In this nexus lies the potential to interact with communities and achieve environmental justice together.
At CalRecycle’s environmental justice symposium “Planning for Justice,” at 1001 I Street, Sacramento, CA on Tuesday, February 11th at 10 AM, speakers will facilitate a discussion about best practices for prioritizing true community engagement for more equitable infrastructure planning.
We are honored to feature California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) Secretary Jared Blumenfeld, as our introductory speaker. Secretary Blumenfeld oversees five boards and departments, as well as one office in CalEPA’s efforts to:
- Fight climate change
- Protect air and water quality
- Regulate pesticides and toxic substances
- Achieve the state’s recycling and waste reduction goals
- Advance environmental justice
The California Environmental Justice Alliance’s Policy and Political Director Katie Valenzuela will explain the relationship between government planning and environmental justice using local examples and identifying opportunities to improve community input related to the planning process.
Cesar Campos from CalEPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control will conduct a simulation of “real life” infrastructure planning with participants acting as city planners. Participants will understand how to effectively engage in the community development planning process.
The best practices demonstrated in this symposium can prepare communities to increase knowledge, education, and transparency to further empower residents to access and actively participate in government development of community infrastructure.
When government employees and community members work together, we can create a more inclusive and environmentally equitable California for all. We look forward to seeing you there.Posted on In the Loop by Tom Steel on Feb 6, 2020