Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.
Since 1986 California has kept 400 billion plastic, glass, aluminum, and bi-metal containers out of our landfills and off our streets by recycling them. Despite our recent loss in the number of conveniently located recycling centers because of dips in the global aluminum scrap market, California still recycled around 18.5 billion beverage containers in 2019.
By continuing our commitment to recycling, we can keep these materials from adding to pollution and our already growing landfills.
In 1986, California passed the Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act with these goals:
- To reduce litter and landfilled trash
- To use recyclable material for manufacturing, rather than mining the planet for new materials.
California gave consumers a financial reason to recycle in 1986 to reduce litter and save materials discarded after one use.
Do We Want a State Littered with Bottles?
We drink most beverages away from home, so having a returnable deposit on the containers can motivate the purchasers to return used bottles and cans for their nickels or dimes. Not all consumers will go to the trouble to recycle, but the redemption program incentivizes others who find a bottle to return it for its monetary value.
In 2018, Californians bought 24.5 billion redemption eligible bottles and cans and recycled about 18.5 billion of those.
That’s 18.5 billion bottles and cans not dumped in our streets, waterways, and ocean to join the plastic from other sources polluting our planet, filling our seas, and killing our marine life. An often-cited study from the World Economic Forum estimates that by the year 2050, the world’s oceans will have more plastic than fish.
Plastic bottles: Designed to use for a few minutes. Built to last forever.
Plastic Breaks Into Toxic Microplastic
Plastic containers might be designed to use for a few minutes, but they are built to last forever. Even if discarded in streets or landfills breaks down into smaller pieces, but it can only become toxic microplastics that poison our bodies and environment. It will never biodegrade into harmless organic matter like most glass does.
Do We Want Microplastics In Our Bodies?
Unknowingly, we each ingest an average of 50,000 pieces of these microplastics each year in liquids, fish, and other foods. We breathe in about the same amount. We don’t yet know the effect these microplastics have, but they may cause immune reactions or have other health impacts.
Recycling Stretches Our Limited Resources
Discarding bottles and cans instead of recycling them means we must constantly use new materials to manufacture the 24 billion new beverage containers we buy every year.
Recycling also brings:
million tons less greenhouse gas emissions since the bottle bill passed—equal to saving
nearly 96 million barrels of oil.
- Less dependence on harvesting resources like aluminum, which is
expensive and environmentally destructive to mine, but may have increased
demand as more nations ban single use plastics
- Reduced demand for landfill space
The best thing you can do for California’s environment right now is to continue recycling. If you discover that a retailer obligated to redeem and listed on our database will not redeem your bottles and cans, please report them to CalRecycle’s help line: (800) RECYCLE.
We follow up on every complaint. Let’s work together to keep recycling — for our environment and our future.Posted on In the Loop by Heather Jones on Jan 27, 2020
More. It’s one of baby’s first words and baby’s first wants. More milk. More food. More fun. More stuff.
That primal pursuit of “more” typically grows with age. We buy. We collect. We throw away. In a state of nearly 40 million people this translates to a lot of waste. Californians send about 38 million tons of stuff to landfills each year.
Recycling reversed our direction
We used to landfill even more. Everything changed in the late 1980s when California collectively decided our children deserve a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable future.
To lessen the impact of our throw-away culture on the environment, California passed the Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act in 1986 and the Integrated Waste Management Act in 1989. These bold actions led to more recycling and more jobs.
Since that time:
- California’s beverage container recycling rate climbed from 52 percent in 1987 to 76 percent in 2018, keeping nearly 400 billion cans and bottles off our streets and out of our landfills and waterways.
- California reduced its landfill disposal by 15 percent, even though its population increased by 34 percent.
- California created and sustained more than 150,000 recycling jobs and a robust recycling infrastructure to help diversify local economies.
Recycling matters now more than ever
Recently cynics have tried to dismiss the value of recycling because of changes in world recycling markets. But as we survey the damage caused by our single-use throwaway culture filling our rivers and oceans with plastic, Californians realize that recycling has become more important than ever.
Many of us who grew up in the 1980s during California’s shift towards recycling now have families of our own. We want to do more for our environment and provide a healthy future for our children.
1. We recycle so our children have quality food grown with compost, not chemicals.
Organic waste makes up two-thirds of California’s disposal stream.
Food waste, green waste, and other organic material can either:
- Decompose in landfills, emitting methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide, or
- Be recycled into new products, such as renewable energy or soil-healing compost to turn depleted dirt back into nutrient rich, water retaining, agriculturally productive soil – reducing the need for chemical pesticide and fertilizer use.
Compost also adds living microbes to soil, which pull the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the air.
2. We recycle so our children have cleaner air to breath.
Manufacturing products from recycled materials requires less energy and results in fewer GHG emissions than mining, refining, processing, and shipping raw materials to make new products, which results in less burning of fossil fuels.
We can recycle organic waste into carbon-neutral biofuel to produce electricity, fuel, or renewable natural gas, further decreasing fossil fuel use and its environmental and health costs.
3. We recycle to keep trash off our streets and out of our waterways and landfills.
In 2018, California recycled 18.5 billion plastic, glass, aluminum, and bimetal beverage containers – the second highest number in the state history. Since passing its bottle bill, Californians have reduced litter and landfilling by recycling nearly 400 billion beverage containers.
Thanks to the bottle bill, curbside recycling, and other waste reduction, reuse, and recycling efforts, California now recycles the equivalent of roughly one-third of the state’s annual landfill capacity each year, reducing the need for new or expanded garbage dumps. This means less air pollution, water pollution, land used and truck traffic.
4. We recycle because our children deserve more trees to climb.
Preventing one ton of paper waste through recycling, reuse, or non-use saves between 15 and 17 mature trees, according to the US EPA.
Producing paper from recycled pulp requires 40 percent less energy than using wood, further reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution.
This savings translates to 4,200 kilowatt hours, 390 gallons of oil, 60 pounds of air pollution, and 7,000 gallons of water, according to MIT.
5. We recycle to fight climate change and create a stronger economy.
When we leave our trash at the curb, it’s efficiently taken away and we never have to think about it again. But we pay an unseen price.
Trash rotting in landfills has real health and environmental impacts. Landfills are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. They add few jobs.
As the effects of climate change lead to more wildfires, severe droughts, sea level rise, floods, and temperature extremes, our trash costs us more than money.
In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, recycling and composting make good use of resources, while creating new industries and 10 times more jobs than landfilling.
Recycling gives us:
- Healthier food
- Cleaner air
- Less litter and pollution
- More air purifying trees
- Less climate changing gases
Recycling matters more than ever because our children deserve nothing less.Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Jan 6, 2020
During the holidays many of us gather to share special meals, exchange gifts, and enjoy ourselves. As you prepare to host gatherings for your loved ones, consider how your celebrations create waste that contributes to climate change and adds to the growing amount of plastic in landfills. Are you being naughty or nice to the planet?
Here are three ways to get on the planet’s Nice List this holiday season
Naughty: Throwing Food in the Trash
Nice: Lowering Food Waste with Meal Plans and Composting
Meal Plan for Zero Food Waste
Many of us consider lavish spreads of favorite holiday dishes the hallmark of a caring host. But excess food gives off high amounts of the potent greenhouse gas methane once it’s dumped in a landfill. This is a major cause of climate change.
Rethink your hosting ideals, brand your gathering eco-friendly, then don’t overbuy or overcook.
Use the food GUEST-IMATOR tool to plan how much to prepare. If there are leftovers you know you won’t finish, send food home with your guests in reusable containers.
Clean your plate or compost the rest.
Try composting your food waste. If your curbside organics collection doesn’t accept food, ask local community gardens if you can contribute to their compost bin.
Consider setting up your own home compost. It can help grow healthier, heartier plants. Winter is the ideal time to start compost that will be ready to add to your garden in the spring.
Easy tips for starting to compost
Naughty: Single-Use Plastic
Nice: Reusable Dishes and Utensils
“Disposable” Plastic Lasts Forever
Many hosts choose the ease of disposable plates, cutlery, and cups for holiday gatherings. But that plastic your guests use for just a few minutes will never biodegrade. It stays on the planet, slowly breaking down into toxic microplastics.
About 10 percent of all trash is plastic. Forty million Californians create more than 3.2 million tons of plastic waste every year.
Reusable plates and cutlery give the gift of a cleaner planet. Less trash in landfills is worth a few extra minutes of cleanup.
Naughty: Dirty Recyclables
Nice: Clean Recyclables
Rinse Containers Before Recycling
Recyclables tainted with food or water can leak onto surrounding paper and cardboard, and create a contaminated, unrecyclable mess. In 2018 China stopped accepting certain US mixed recyclable shipments because many arrived full of mold and had to be thrown away in landfills.
Clean your containers to keep recycling from becoming garbage.
Not sure about that greasy pizza box? Tear off the oily parts and toss those in the trash. The remaining clean cardboard can go in your blue bin.
Check out this quick video on recycling contamination.
With a few small changes, you can make a difference for the planet even as you enjoy this festive season. Get more eco-friendly holiday hints to use this year.Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Dec 23, 2019