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/132 

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

  • Eight Ways to Stretch Your Food While Quarantined

    The average family of four spends $150 on uneaten food each year

     

    Most of us are sheltering-in-place right now, having already stocked up on non-perishable canned and frozen food. Since every foray into society could bring exposure to COVID-19, consider ways to maximize the food you have to last as long as possible and save you trips to the grocery store.  It will also help you reduce food waste, a major contributor of greenhouse gases coming out of landfills.

    Here are eight ways to stretch the food you’ve saved:

    1. Make a double batch of sauces, stews, beans, and casseroles, and save the rest in the freezer for a future weeknight dinner with zero cooking.
    2. Create a scrap bag in your freezer to use to make stock for soups and sauces. I have a scrap bag in my freezer full of food scraps. Any time you peel a carrot, slice an onion, or cut the edges off a bell pepper, you can divert the leftovers from the garbage into the scrap bag kept in the freezer. Once the scrap bag is full, simmer the contents with water over low heat for about an hour, then save the liquid for a tasty stock to make soups and sauces. Cook rice, beans, or quinoa in it to add extra flavor. 
    3. Keep bread in the freezer and defrost a slice or two when you need them.
    4. Dried beans are cheap and freeze easily. You can cook a double batch in your crock pot and freeze half for an easy meal.
    5. Soups hold up well when they’re stored in containers in the freezer. You can even freeze individual servings for a quick meal on demand.
    6. Buy meat in bulk, divide it into single portions, and defrost as you need them. Meats can be cheaper in bulk and often have less packaging.
    7. Fruits like berries are simple to freeze. Place them on a cookie sheet, freeze them overnight, and transfer them to an empty container to store in the freezer. Frozen berries liven up morning smoothies.
    8. Butter freezes well and is easy to defrost when you get the baking itch. It’s also often cheaper to buy in bulk.

       

      I hope these tips are as useful to you. To learn more about preventing food waste, please visit Save The Food. Interested in other ways to reduce food waste? Check out the Public Health Alliance of Southern California’s Resource Library and CalRecycle’s Resource Directory.

    Posted on In the Loop by CalRecycle Staff on Mar 23, 2020

  • Engaging Community to Achieve Environmental Justice

     

    Tom Steel with CalRecycle Acting Director Ken DaRosa and Environmental Justice Coordinator Maria Salinas

    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

    Equity versus equality means helping disadvantaged communities with equal access to resources.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    “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.

    woman standing in front of truck with clipboard and group raking organic waste in yard.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    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