Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.

  • Planet Protecting-Prom: Dance the Night Away Eco-Guilt-Free

    Sandy and Danny dancing in the movie Grease

    Corsages and cummerbunds mark prom season just before the end of the school year. Soon students will be shopping for dresses, tuxes, and limos, but at what cost to the environment? If you’re a freshman to the world of sustainability, take note of these tips for a planet-protecting prom.

    Various prom dresses

    Give Fast Fashion the Slip

    It can be difficult to avoid those inexpensive clothing items when you or your teenager are fashion-forward on a budget. But, armed with the knowledge that the fashion industry (especially fast fashion) is one of the main contributors to landfill waste, pollution, and unfair labor practices, it might be a little easier to give up those bargain garments. Instead, try purchasing something secondhand. Just because it was previously owned, that does not mean it is cheap, tacky, or unsophisticated. In fact, most prom dresses are only worn once, so it’s likely any “used” dress will be in excellent condition—not to mention less expensive. You can also get creative and refashion a secondhand item that has potential. Don’t have enough room in your closet or not as creative as you’d like to be? Find a dress rental company in your area—tuxes are rented, so why can’t a dress be? Another option can be a formal clothing exchange between friends, an exchange program, or even your library—yes, your library! There are also plenty of places to donate your dress when you’re done with it.

    Olive Oyl applying makeup

    Makeover Your Cosmetic Bag

    Looking your best doesn’t stop at your outfit, and it shouldn’t come at the expense of the planet. Whether you or your teen wears makeup or simple moisturizer, applies lots of hair product or just needs a razor to get rid of unwanted stubble, there is an earth-friendly option for everyone. Start by asking what cosmetics and beauty accessories are made of—plastic or natural ingredients? Biodegradable or single-use? What about excess packaging? Look for zero-waste companies, or DIY your cosmetics.

    Limo driving to dance

    Limopool

    If you or your teen can afford to rent a limo, make sure to get as many passengers as possible. This will help offset the carbon emissions created by driving multiple cars, and it can also help bring down the cost of the rental. If a limo isn’t in the cards, try regular carpooling or even a pedicab if the venue is nearby. No one expects anyone to ride their bike in their formals, but a pedicab or even a horse-drawn carriage can be a fun and eco-friendly option if the dance is nearby.

    Peter Parker handing a corsage to his date

    Corsage Compost

    After the night is over, the formal footwear is kicked off and it’s time to hit the hay, don’t toss your boutoniere or corsage in the trash. If you don’t plan on hanging on to your flowers as a keepsake, compost it or throw it in your yard waste bin minus the ribbons, pins, and other decorations—you can always reuse those, but they don’t belong in the pile with other organic waste.

    Now get out there and promenade that planet-protecting way, knowing you did the right thing for future prom-goers!

    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Apr 8, 2019

  • Plastics Recycler Joins California’s Climate Fight

    Company Brings New Technology and Jobs to Stanislaus County

    Did you ever wonder what happens to those empty plastic beverage containers once you redeem them? What about the milk jugs or clamshell food cartons in your curbside recycling bin? Or the odds and ends left behind after manufacturers create their new plastic products or packaging?

    At Peninsula Plastics Recycling in Turlock, workers are able to transform these types of materials into clean, ready-to-use pellets or flakes that businesses can then use to manufacture new products. With an annual production capacity of more than 25,000 tons, the company prides itself on helping California transform potential waste into a resource rather than landfilling it or shipping it overseas.

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    Peninsula Plastics Recycling, Inc. purchases, sorts, and cleans recycled plastics and transforms the material into flakes and pellets (above) that companies use to manufacture new products.

    “The pellets and flakes we produce can be used in a number of applications,” explains Tony Moucachen, CEO of Peninsula Plastics Recycling, Inc. “Everything from new plastic bottles for beverages and cleaning products, sheets for clamshell containers, fiber for polyester carpet, fabric for clothes and upholstery, the list goes on.”

    In the coming months, Peninsula Plastics Recycling is set to take its sustainability efforts to the next level. With the help of a $1 million award from CalRecycle’s Recycled Fiber, Plastic, and Glass Grant Program, the company was able to purchase $3 million in new separating, extrusion, and forming equipment. This will help Peninsula Plastics convert nearly half the waste from its PET processing operation into a new product.

    “The product we don’t sell in the pellet or flake form … we will be turning into landscaping edging that can be used in your garden or for pond liners,” Moucachen says. “It’s a product normally made from a non-renewable, oil-based raw material.”

    In addition to keeping more waste out of California landfills, recycling plastic or any other readily recyclable material (such as glass, fiber, paper, carpet, or wood) helps California eliminate greenhouse gas emissions associated with the mining and refining of new raw materials.

    CalRecycle’s Recycled Fiber, Plastic, and Glass grants are intended to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by expanding existing facility capacity or establishing new facilities in California that use California-generated postconsumer recycled fiber, plastic, or glass to manufacture products. The program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities.

    “We’re creating jobs in California and we’re making products in California,” Moucachen notes.

    In addition to creating ten more jobs at the Peninsula Plastics Recycling plant in Turlock, he says the upgrade will help make its current 70-person workforce more sustainable moving forward.

    “Without the California Climate Investment, we would not have done this,” he adds. “This market is becoming tougher and tougher as oil prices sit around a ten-year low,” which means it’s often cheaper for manufacturers to use virgin materials instead of recycled ones.  

    Moucachen says traditional financing companies aren’t quick to fund these types of investments in an industry so vulnerable to fluctuating commodities markets and an increasingly uncertain supply. 

    “They want to make sure you have the same raw material coming at you every day. But if a clamshell manufacturer decides to change materials, you no longer have the same feedstock,” he explains. “You could have a contract with a municipality or a buyback center, but you can’t guarantee that tomorrow’s packaging will be the same as yesterday’s.”

    Now, thanks to its new technology, a commitment to its community, and a $1 million California Climate Investments grant, Peninsula Plastics Recycling is better equipped to handle these ever-changing material streams—and help move California closer to a carbon-neutral economy. 

    “Instead of the material going into a landfill, it’s going to be circular.” Moucachen continues, “It’s good for the environment. It’s good for the economy. And it’s good for our community.”

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    Find out more about CalRecycle’s California Climate Investments grants and loans and read stories from other grant recipients about how they’re putting Cap-and-Trade dollars to work for California’s economy, environment, and the health of our communities.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Sep 25, 2017

  • Fighting Climate Change by Feeding the Hungry

    Local food recovery networks key to cutting California GHG emissions

    It’s 10 a.m. on a typical Wednesday at FoodLink for Tulare Countyand Executive Director Sarah Ramirez, PhD, MPH has to make some quick decisions. The California Association of Food Banks has four truckloads (92 pallets) of California-grown mixed vegetables—radishes, celery, and kale—available, thanks to a donation from a grower or packing house.

    “Maybe they have too much, it’s sitting in their cold box for too long, it doesn’t meet retail standards, or it could be imperfect ugly produce,” Ramirez explains.

    The kale might last a week once it arrives, and only four of the county’s 27 food pantries have cold storage. She continues, “Then you get into, ‘If we only have one produce truck, how many distributions do we (Foodlink) have left this month? Can we get it all out?’”

    Ideally, all of that produce will make it into the bellies of the roughly1 in 3 Tulare County residents (or 1 in 8 Californians) considered food insecure. But if a pantry receives more radishes, celery, or kale than it can handle, chances are good that some of it will wind up among the nearly 6 million tons of food waste landfilled in California each year. Preventing that scenario is top priority for Ramirez and her colleagues within California’s vast network of food banks, pantries, soup kitchens, and other food recovery organizations throughout the state. 

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    Photo courtesy of FoodLink Tulare County

    It’s also a crucial part of California’s strategy to combat climate change.

    When sent to landfills, food and other organic waste decomposes and generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas with a heat-trapping effect at least 70 times greater than carbon dioxide.

    “Bolstering California’s food recovery infrastructure will help feed communities in need and also result in significant greenhouse gas reductions,” says Kyle Pogue, organics program manager with the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.

    Food recovery also helps ease the looming burden on the state’s limited organic waste recycling facilities, which California must roughly double in order to meet the legislative mandates and climate goals passed in recent years. The most recent legislation, SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016), establishes significant methane emissions reduction targets that require the near elimination of organic waste in landfills. It also sets forth a requirement to recover 20 percent of edible food, currently sent to landfills, for human consumption by 2025.

    With that in mind, CalRecycle has expanded grant opportunities for food recovery organizations through California Climate Investments. The statewide program puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities. During fiscal year 2016/17, CalRecycle is debuting a new Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant program with $5 million dedicated specifically to this effort.

    “Many food recovery organizations tell us there’s a shortage in infrastructure,” Pogue says. “We want to help these groups recover more food by growing their capacity to collect, transport, store, and distribute more product.”

    The designated dollars for food recovery could help groups like Foodlink for Tulare County add more refrigerated trucks, or increase the number of cold storage units within the county’s food pantries. “We live in a county where about 40 percent of our children are living in poverty,” Ramirez says. “Just think about what that additional food could be doing for these families.”

    The renewed focus on food recovery is also welcome news for people like Patti Larson, executive director for Los Angeles-basedFood Finders. “It’s definitely helping us and putting food recovery in the spotlight where it wasn’t before.”

    Larson’s organization relies on donations of primarily prepared and perishable food from grocers, restaurants, schools, hotels, and other venues, which volunteers help deliver to area shelters in need. Larson says she’s always looking for new funding opportunities and appreciates the investments California is making in this area. “If it’s still good food and you know there’s a need in your community, why wouldn’t helping feed people be your priority?”

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    Photo courtesy of FoodLink Tulare County

    Ultimately, reducing the amount of surplus food generated in the first place is the most environmentally beneficial way to cut emissions associated with growing, transporting, processing, and storing food.

    “As much as we can prevent food waste or recover food waste and get it into California’s food recovery network, it’s less of a burden on the organics infrastructure to either compost or digest it,” Pogue continues. “We could potentially be talking about a lot of food that could be used to feed a lot of people in need.”

    Contact your local food recovery nonprofit or the California Association of Food Banks to find out how you can get involved.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on May 18, 2017